Navy’s new laser weapon: Hype or reality?

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May 18, 2015

Subrata Ghoshroy, Adjunct Faculty, ISSSP, NIAS

USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the  Laser Weapon System (LaWS) (Credit: U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) (Credit: U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

In December 2014, the US Navy made a great show of their test of a laser weapon in what it called the “realistic threat environment” of the Persian Gulf. Video from the test, made available to the press, showed the USS Ponce firing the Laser Weapon System to burn some holes through the sides of some speedboats, causing the boats’ contents to explode. Other tests apparently shot some drone replicas out of the sky. To an old hand in the laser research industry, the tests were underwhelming. They reminded me of an old cartoon in which someone shot an arrow at the side of a barn, then painted a bulls-eye around the spot where the arrow landed. Similarly, after years of false promises, boondoggles, and an enormous waste of taxpayer money going back to the early years of the Reagan era, the military laser lobby came up with these tests. When they couldn’t get a laser lightweight enough to fit on a ship while still being powerful enough to burn through the metal skin of an incoming nuclear missile, they simply changed their goal to something akin to puncturing the side of an Iranian rubber dinghy.

To read the complete article click here
Conducting Academic and Policy Research related to National and International Security Issues
Sign up for Updates

Enter your email below



We will not share your email