The Laser Weapon System or LaWS is a directed-energy weapon developed by the United States Navy. The weapon was installed on the USS Ponce for field testing in 2014. In December 2014 the United States Navy reported the LaWS system works perfectly, and that the commander of the USS Ponce is authorized to use the system as a defensive weapon.
The technical issues associated with the addition of LaWS (Laser Weapon System) to the Phalanx CIWS (Close in weapon system) will be somewhat different from those associated with adding a LaWS system to other weapon systems—or the provision of a “stand-alone” LaWS—they do not appear to be insurmountable. For example, a LaWS beam director might be added to the stabilized Mk 38 Mod 2 25mm gun or the Mk 46 Mod 2 30mm gun. A LaWS beam director might be added to (or even substituted for) the Mk 46 EO Sight on DDGs or added to the trainable RAM launcher. Other options may exist as well.
The Navy fiber SSL (solid state laser) effort is the Tactical Laser System (TLS)—a laser with a beam power of 10 kW that is designed to be added to the Mk 38 25 mm machine guns installed on the decks of many Navy surface ships. TLS would augment the Mk 38 machine gun in countering targets such as small boats; it could also assist in providing precise tracking of targets.
A system such as LaWS could provide graduated lethality from warning to destruction. It also could provide additional applications to minimize risk to sea base platforms and enhance sea shield capabilities against nonstate threats. If acceptable rules of engagement can be established, the advantages of graduated lethality might be extended to ships in port or entering/exiting harbors.
Mk 38 Mod 2 25mm gun
Laser Weapon System (LaWS) Operational demonstration aboard USS Ponce
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