The Layered Laser Defense weapon shoots down a drone all through a February demonstration at the U.S. Army’s High Strength Laser Programs Examination Facility at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The ONR-sponsored demonstration marked the 1st time the U.S. Navy used an all-electric powered, high-energy laser weapon to defeat a target representing a subsonic cruise missile in flight.
Photograph courtesy of Lockheed Martin
The ground-based laser method homed in on the purple drone traveling by, shooting a superior-energy beam invisible to the bare eye. Instantly, a fiery orange glow flared on the drone, smoke poured from its motor and a parachute opened as the craft tumbled downward, disabled by the laser beam.
The February demonstration marked the very first time the U.S. Navy applied an all-electric powered, large-power laser weapon to defeat a goal symbolizing a subsonic cruise missile in flight.
Recognised as the Layered Laser Defense (LLD), the weapon was developed and constructed by Lockheed Martin to provide as a multi-domain, multi-platform demonstration process. It can counter unmanned aerial methods and speedy-attack boats with a substantial-ability laser—and also use its superior-resolution telescope to monitor in-bound air threats, aid beat identification and carry out struggle hurt evaluation of engaged targets.
The drone shoot-down by the LLD was element of a the latest test sponsored by the Business office of Naval Research (ONR) at the U.S. Army’s Substantial Power Laser Programs Take a look at Facility at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The demonstration was a partnership amongst ONR, the Office environment of the Below Secretary of Protection (Study and Engineering) and Lockheed Martin.
“Innovative laser units like the LLD have the possible to redefine the long run of naval overcome functions,” said Chief of Naval Analysis Rear Adm. Lorin C. Selby. “They existing transformational abilities to the fleet, handle numerous threats, and provide precision engagements with a deep magazine to enhance existing defensive methods and enhance sustained lethality in significant-depth conflict.”
The LLD tests supports a broader work by the naval investigation and improvement community, partnered closely with the fleet, to experienced systems and area a family of laser weapons that can deal with a number of threats using a array of escalating possibilities. These capabilities variety from non-lethal actions, these types of as optical “dazzling” and disabling of sensors, to destruction of a goal.
Laser weapons supply new precision and speed of engagement for naval warfighters. They also provide simplified logistics that are safer for ships and their crews, as lasers are not dependent on the standard propellants or gunpowder-based mostly ordnance located on ships.
In its place, fashionable high-ability lasers run on electrical power, generating them inherently safer and equipped to give weapon capacity as very long as a ship has energy. This also usually means the value for every engagement for a laser weapon can be quite minimal, considering the fact that the only consumable product expended is gasoline to operate the system.
For yrs, the Division of Defense (DoD) and all the Services have identified the guarantee of directed-energy weapons this kind of as lasers, and continue to prioritize exploration. A short while ago, the Under Secretary of Protection for Investigate and Engineering, the Hon. Heidi Shyu, re-affirmed that directed power is one of the DoD’s vital technological innovation areas.
ONR plays an critical position in creating technologies for laser weapons and has fielded demonstration methods for operational experimentation. Notably, in 2014 ONR observed the Laser Weapon System tested effectively aboard the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf. More not long ago, ONR fielded the Laser Weapon Program Demonstrator aboard the USS Portland in 2021.
Despite the fact that there is no plan to field the LLD, it presents a glimpse into the long term of laser weapons. It is compact and powerful, but far more productive than earlier programs. It has specialised optics to notice a focus on and concentrate laser beams to maximum effect, though also incorporating artificial intelligence to enhance tracking and concentrating on.
“LLD is an case in point of what a incredibly highly developed laser method can do to defeat major threats to naval forces,” explained David Kiel, a former Navy captain who is a application officer in ONR’s Aviation, Drive Projection and Built-in Protection Office, which managed the screening. “And we have ongoing endeavours, each at ONR and in other Navy packages, to retain setting up on these outcomes in the close to future.”
In the course of the new check at White Sands, the LLD tracked or shot down an array of targets—including unmanned fixed-wing aerial automobiles, quadcopters and superior-pace drones representative of subsonic cruise missiles.
“We’re proud to say that the Layered Laser Protection system defeated a surrogate cruise missile threat in partnership with the Navy, White Sands Missile Array and Army High Electrical power Laser Programs Check Facility groups. Lockheed Martin drew very best-in-course laser weapon subsystems from throughout the company, together with essential industry associate Rolls-Royce, to help the whole danger engagement timeline from target detection to defeat,” claimed Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Sophisticated Item Options. “We leveraged much more than 40 several years of directed power practical experience to produce new capabilities that assist the 21st century warfighter.”
Dr. Frank Peterkin, ONR’s directed electricity portfolio manager, said, “The Navy executed identical tests during the 1980s but with chemical-centered laser technologies that introduced significant logistics limitations for fielding in an operational setting. And, eventually, individuals varieties of lasers did not transition to the fleet or any other Service.
“Today, ONR coordinates closely with the Navy’s resourcing and acquisition communities to make absolutely sure we build laser weapon systems that make feeling for the Navy’s necessities to protect the fleet and for operations in the tough maritime natural environment at sea,” Peterkin continued. “It’s a challenging trouble, but Navy management at all ranges see likely for laser weapons to genuinely make a variation. The future several a long time are going to be really interesting as we perform with the Navy and joint partners to make the ability we just observed shown by the LLD a truth for the naval warfighter.”