The U.S. Navy is developing several shipborne directed energy weapons. It is not clear what kind of laser weapon the destroyer is carrying.
According to our analysis, what we see on the Dewey is most likely the Navys optical blinding interceptor system, rogoway said
Optical blinding interception system is a kind of laser system with low power, which will be used to interfere with the enemy photoelectric and infrared sensor system by launching and modulating blinding laser beam, similar to the way of directional infrared countermeasure system to protect the aircraft from heat seeking missile attack. The optical dazzling interception system will be able to fight against shipborne equipment, aircraft and UAV, even anti-ship cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
The optical blinding interceptor system can supplement the existing active and passive defense components on the main warships of the US Navy. At present, the defense weapons include standard - 6, standard - 3, standard - 2, improved sea sparrow missile and RAM air defense missile, dense array near air defense gun, narka anti missile decoy system, and slq-32 and slq-59 electronic warfare systems.
Many shipborne passive defense systems are designed to interfere with the radar guidance of anti-ship missiles, but more and more missiles are also equipped with infrared guidance systems with ineffective radar interference.
Rogoway noted that optical blinding interceptors may interfere with these missiles, causing them to deviate from their orbit or fall into the sea when launching an attack..
Laser weapons are maturing
The laser weapon installed by Dewey is one of the two striking new directional energy weapons appearing in recent weeks. In mid October 2019, the U.S. Navy began to deliver powerful new laser weapons from a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California, to the San Diego naval base.
The war zone website is the first to report the arduous process of transporting these heavy weapons.
In San Diego, workers plan to install the 150 kilowatt laser weapon on the amphibious assault ship Portland. The ships crew may begin testing the new weapon by the end of 2019.
Northrop Grumman developed the laser weapon with the support of the US Navys $53 million solid state laser technology maturity program. The plan began in 2015.
As a shipborne weapon, laser weapon may have many advantages over traditional weapons such as artillery or missile. First of all, laser weapons do not need ammunition. As long as the ship has power, the laser weapons can be launched continuously. Its attack speed to the target is faster than the missile.
But todays laser weapons lack the power and range to destroy large targets a few miles away or to do any damage. The solid state laser technology maturity program and a Lockheed Martin effort could enable laser weapons to have the power and range to protect ships from drones, small ships, cruise missiles and even ballistic missiles.
Low cost directed energy weapons must be part of our future, Admiral William Moran, then undersecretary of operations, said at an industry conference in 2016. If we continue to rely on kinetic energy weapons, we will lose our ability to defend ourselves.
The Navy wants the solid-state laser technology maturity program to be a learning experience, explains the Naval Academys news website. The U.S. Navy chose Portland to install the weapon because the 25000 ton displacement ship has space and backup power to effectively accommodate laser weapons the size of a Northrop Grumman tractor.
At about the same time, the U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $150 million contract to develop a high energy laser equipped with an integrated optical blinding and surveillance system..
The 60 kW high energy laser equipped with integrated optical blinding and monitoring system system has smaller power than the solid state laser technology mature plan. The U.S. Navy plans to begin installing smaller laser cannons on destroyers in 2021.
The U.S. Navy hopes to begin deploying megawatt laser weapons by 2025. A laser weapon with this power can destroy ballistic missiles, but it may require a huge ship with the same amount of power. For example, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier.
Data sheet: laser weapon system on U.S. Navy ships. Xinhua News Agency / Xiba