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Navy Tests Solid-State Laser Weapon in Gulf of Aden

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The U.S. Navy has reported that the USS Portland conducted a high-energy laser weapon system demonstration on Dec. 14 in the Gulf of Aden. During the demonstration, the Solid-State Laser, Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0 engaged a static surface training target. The Portland previously tested the system in May 2020 when it successfully disabled a small unmanned aerial system while operating in the Pacific Ocean.
Amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland conducts a high-energy laser weapon system demonstration on a static surface training target while sailing in the Gulf of Aden. The photo was captured using a short wave infrared lens and optical filter. Courtesy of Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert, U.S. Marine Corps.
Amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland conducts a high-energy laser weapon system demonstration on a static surface training target while sailing in the Gulf of Aden. The photo was captured using a shortwave infrared lens and optical filter. Courtesy of Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert, U.S. Marine Corps.

The LWSD is a high-energy laser weapon system demonstrator developed by the Office of Naval Research. The Portland was selected to host the system in 2018, the first system-level implementation of a high-energy solid-state laser weapon.

In 2015, Northrop Grumman was contracted to deliver to the Navy a core laser module for the LWSD with 100- to 150-kW output power. In a press release at that time, the company said that future Navy laser weapon systems could eventually protect a wide array of naval platforms from advanced surface and air threats. 

According to the U.S. Navy, the LWSD is considered a next-generation follow-on to the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) that the afloat forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) tested for three years while operating in the Middle East. Portland is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group that includes amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), and that embarked Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The units left San Diego in August and began operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet region in September.

Published: December 2021
Glossary
directed energy
Directed energy refers to a type of energy that is emitted and transferred in a controlled direction. The term is often associated with military and technological applications where energy, typically in the form of electromagnetic radiation, is focused and directed toward a specific target. Directed energy systems can take various forms, including lasers and high-power microwaves. The key characteristic is the intentional concentration of energy to achieve a desired effect on a target. In...
BusinessLasersmilitarymilitary & defenseUS NavyDirected EnergyDirected Energy WeaponLWSDUSS PortlandNorthrop GrummanOffice of Naval ResearchIndustry News

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