US Army and Navy Demo 300 Kilowatt Laser by 2022 and Navy Targets 500 Kilowatts by 2024

In 2022, the US Army will field test two high-energy lasers. A 50-kilowatt weapon to destroy enemy drones and incoming artillery rockets and a 300-kW weapon that could potentially shoot down cruise missiles. The US Navy has installed and tested 150 kilowatt lasers and will be testing 300-kilowatt lasers.

US Army’s Six Modernization Priorities

1. Long Range Precision Fires: long-range artillery/munitions and missiles.
Nextbigfuture has covered the new ramjets that will increase the range of artillery and missiles by five times and the new super long-range cannons that will have 1000 miles of range.

2. Next Generation of Combat Vehicles: M-2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle replacement and associated manned and unmanned ground combat systems.
3. Future Vertical Lift: replacements for current Army reconnaissance, utility, and attack helicopters and fixed-wing assets.
4. Army Network: command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems.

5. Air and Missile Defense: systems to protect Army ground forces against a range of air and missile threats.
There are new 50 kilowatt, 150 kilowatt, 300 kilowatt and megawatt-class combat lasers being installed for the US Army, US Navy and the other branches of the US military.

6. Soldier Lethality: new individual and crew-served weapons, including night vision and other weapon target acquisition technologies.

Source: Statement by the Honorable Mark T. Esper Secretary of the Army and General Mark A. Milley Chief of Staff United States Army before the Senate Armed Services Committee First Session, 116th Congress on the Posture of the United States Army, March 26, 2019.

According to the Army, DE M-SHORAD (Directed Energy – Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense) is to consist of a 50 kW Laser Weapon System integrated onto a Stryker with onboard 360 degree radar and a secondary Independent Target Acquisition and Tracking System. With a crew of three, DE M-SHORAD’s primary target sets include Group 1-3 UAS rotary wing aircraft, and limited rocket artillery and mortars (RAM). The system is designed to maneuver with Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) and to be operational while on the move, stopping only briefly to fire if necessary. The Army has ordered four laser Strykers which is a platoon. By 2024, the Army plans to have four operational, 300 kW-class IFPC-HEL prototypes integrated on tactical vehicles to a platoon while initially demonstrating the 300 kW-class capability in FY22.

The 50-150 kilowatt combat lasers will be able to destroy drones out to 25 kilometers. Lasers with 300 kilowatts of power and beyond are needed to defend against cruise missiles.

The US Navy has already installed 150-kilowatt lasers on ships for testing and will upgrade to 300 kilowatts by 2022 and plan 500 kilowatts by 2024.

If there are no problems the US Navy will push on to megawatt lasers.

SOURCES- Congressional Research Report, Breaking Defense
Written By Brian Wang,

14 thoughts on “US Army and Navy Demo 300 Kilowatt Laser by 2022 and Navy Targets 500 Kilowatts by 2024”

  1. That's true, but cost and logistics are one of the most important considerations when it comes to… well most things actually.

  2. Apparently better than the Peresvet (10-100 kW power range). But the Peresvet is already operational and it will be boosted to 300-500 kW after next gen upgrade. The United States are left behind in the hypersonic race but seem quite on par on lasers.

  3. If the laser turret becomes the basis for the next "battleship" then they could always drop a small nuclear reactor in the ship. Practically unlimited power.

    On a surface ship, or on the ground, these become mainly defensive weapons. But if you could get a functional mirror above the target, or put a similar laser on a plane, then you have an offensive weapon.

    You don't send an army into a war zone to defend itself. That's nice to have but the whole point is attacking the other guys. This will never remain a defensive weapon. Whatever can fit on a plane will become the real hero. Might as well put it on something that flies around 80,000 feet up too. It should be just as accurate from there, and harder to shoot down.

    Pop a nuclear reactor on the plane, so it can loiter over a target for days, and you've got a real game changer.

  4. I think the laser wattage is output power not input. So 1MWh will only drive a 1MW laser for 1/2 an hour if it is 50% efficient. I don't know what the actual efficiency is; Probably lower. Power and efficiency are contradictory optimization targets.

  5. Actually, yes the US should be pretty happy with this new tech. The ability to shoot down enemy drones and missiles will greatly add to the offensive and defensive capabilities of our forces on the battlefield regardless of who the adversary is. For example, if enemy ships are shooting missiles at our navy we can blow them out the sky. Of course, eventually other nations will have the same capability, but all in all it's better to have the capability then not. Moreover, it's not just having a tech that's important, but also how well it's maintained, trained, employed, and supplied.


  6. A Tesla Semi should have 1 MWh energy capacity.
    This mean it could power a 1MW laser for an hour.
    Supposing it needs 10 seconds per target to disable /destroy it, it can cycle 360 targets in an hour before it dies.
    How much power can a ship engine deliver to a power generator?

  7. With Starship orbital kinetic bombers, these would be pretty effective against anything in vacuum over long distances.

  8. I wonder what the cycle time is between shots. That is what will really determine usefulness as a defensive weapon. Offensively, lasers are limited by the horizon, so you'll need drones or aircraft capable of powering them before they become truly useful in that role.

  9. Of course we should not get too overjoyed over that. Realistically speaking, technology China now is in a position to copy, replicate and respond to all of that in the short term.

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