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Rays of Death: US is testing a combat laser

The U.S. Navy in the near future plans to install a combat laser system based on solid-state technology on the USS Portland landing transport dock such as San Antonio. Laser tests directly at sea are scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2019.

Rays of Death: US is testing a combat laser

The contract for the development of a combat laser complex in 2015 was won by Northrop Grumman. According to the design documentation, the beam power should be at least 150 kW. The full name of this program can be roughly translated as “Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM).” About this writes the publication Drive.
In accordance with the SSL-TM program, it is planned to equip the US Navy with "a ship laser with a beam power of up to 150 kW, which will provide increased efficiency against small ships and boats, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles."
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This follows from a review of U.S. Navy directional energy projects that the U.S. Congressional Research Service published in September 2019.

In January 2018, the Navy announced that they intend to install an SSL-TM laser on the newly built USS Portland Landing Transport Dock (LPD-27). SSL-TM trials on a ship at sea are scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2019.
As you know, to defeat unmanned aerial vehicles, a power level of a combat laser complex of up to about 100 kW is enough. To destroy a boat or a small ship, a power level of hundreds of kW is already required.
And in order to hit a guided missile in flight, you need at least 500 kW (when designing a laser, you need to start from this point).
The level reached by the Americans at 150 kW says that the US Navy, with the help of combat laser systems, is already capable of fighting unmanned aerial vehicles and boats. However, in order to successfully hit supersonic guided missiles of the "air-ground" ("air-ship") class, it is necessary to reach the power of a combat laser complex of more than 1 MW, and in order to ensure the defense of a battle group of ships (detachment of battleships, aircraft carrier strike group) ) at ranges of 5-20 km, it is necessary to go to the power level of the combat laser complex up to 3 MW.

By the way, the US Navy was going to test a combat laser complex with a power of 150 kW back in 2017, and earlier, Gazeta.Ru wrote about this
The main advantage of a combat laser complex is the extremely low cost of a shot. As Guy Renard, director and manager of the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems program said earlier, the cost of a shot would cost about one gallon of diesel - less than a dollar. According to him, the new high-precision weapons will protect "not only the sailors of our fleet but also his wallet."
The power level of 150 kW, by the way, is five times higher than the laser complex, tested for the first time in 2014 in the Persian Gulf. American developers even then claimed that they had solved the main problem - they created a powerful energy storage device.
According to American experts, 150 kW is a real breakthrough in comparison with the previous combat laser with a power of only 30 kW AN / SEQ-3 (XN-1), which was installed in 2014 on the US Navy Ponce landing transport dock. The latter was developed by the University of Pennsylvania's Electro-Optics Center (EOC) and L-3 Communication to destroy small vessels, boats and drones.
As previously reported by website recently retired head of the surface forces department of the naval command of the US Navy, Rear Admiral Ronald Boxall said that the US naval forces will receive a high-energy laser and an integrated optical dazzler, as well as an associated system intelligence as early as 2021.
According to Brian Clark, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments of the United States, research is currently underway in the United States to determine if the Navy can use laser technology in the future to destroy even hypersonic missiles.

As Brian Clark is convinced, the equipment of US Navy ships with combat lasers is now in the “when” plane, and not the “if” plane.

“The laser is capable of shooting down cruise missiles. And this will happen in the near future, ”Clark confirmed.
“There is no particular technical problem. We are talking about the development of a laser with a form factor that is suitable for a ship and a ship with enough power to power it. This is a technically feasible task, ”Clark added.
In his opinion, the demand for a ship's combat laser arises from the improvement of high-tech anti-ship cruise missiles (and their distribution in the world), the flight speed of which is constantly growing, and the unpredictability of the trajectory is only increasing.
Earlier, the leadership of the combat work of the Aegis information and control system required that the US Navy ships, during firing at an aerial target, make two consecutive launches of anti-aircraft guided missiles (SAM). After undermining the warhead of the first missile, the calculation evaluated the effectiveness of the first launch. If the first launch was unsuccessful, the second missile was launched.
But the United States believes that China and Russia are developing new tactics for using anti-ship missiles. According to US naval analysts, Moscow and Beijing plan to launch more anti-ship missiles during a clash at sea than the US Navy’s self-defense systems can reflect.
That is, the meaning of such a “banzai attack” is to force the American fleet to use up all its missiles and leave it completely defenseless for subsequent attacks, or to exceed the capabilities of US ships in terms of fire performance of their systems and systems. So winning in such a battle is theoretically possible, but it will cost opponents of the United States very, very expensive.
The purpose of the combat use of ship's lasers is to make these types of attacks cost the potential enemy even more than repel missile attacks by U.S. Navy ships in traditional ways. In fact, we are talking about inexhaustible ammunition on ships of the US Navy.
The combat laser system has one more advantage. “Many people think that lasers are what shoots, but lasers are also a very good means of intelligence, that is, a sensor. When you approach a radar station, radar capabilities objectively deteriorate. When you get closer to the laser, it only gets better, ”- Rear Admiral Ronald Boxall explained some of the advantages of laser weapons.

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