By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
April 16, 2011
DefenseReview (DR) recently published a short piece on the SPA Defense/XADS TR3 Laser Rifle for ship defense/anti-piracy ops, which is a rather powerful, yet non-lethal, green laser (visible laser) weapon meant to temporarily blind, disorient, and disrupt the enemy. The TR3 would appear to be an effective and useful weapon, but it’s also nice to have a lethal laser weapon for situations where maritime force must be escalated.
Enter the Northrop Grumman Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD) high-energy laser (HEL), a shipborne tactical laser weapon that was recently fired from a U.S. Navy warship at a target vessel (boat), effectively destroying one of its outboard engines by burning right through the metal. The MLD is essentially a repurposed version of Northrop’s Joint High Power Solid-State Laser (JHPSSL) Program.
The MLD, of course, reminds Defense Review of the Boeing ATL (Advanced Tactical Laser), which the U.S. Air Force tested back in Ocober 2010. The ATL was fired through a truck’s engine hood from a Lockheed NC-130H aircraft.
The implications of the April 6 (2011) maritime test, conducted by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) (and Northrop Grumman) are obvious. It only stands to reason that shipborne tactical laser weapons will most likely eventually augment and replace missiles and guns (cannon) on U.S. military warships for line-of-sight interdiction and neutralization of enemy targets.
Somali pirates had better watch their step!
By the way, DR is curious as to how that developmental electromagnetic rail gun prototype at the Institute for Advanced Technology (IAT) Electromagnetic Systems Division at the University of Texas at Austin is coming along.
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