Detailed view of the LaWS fitted on top of the bridge on board USS Ponce
Over the past several months, working under the ONR Quick Reaction Capability program, a team of Navy engineers and scientists have upgraded LaWS, and proved that targets tracked with a Phalanx Close-In Weapon can be easily handed over to the laser's targeting and tracking system. The result is a weapon system with a single laser weapon control console, manned by a surface warfare weapons officer aboard USS Ponce who can operate all functions of the laser-and if commanded, fire the laser weapon.
Using a video game-like controller, that sailor will be able to manage the laser's power to accomplish a range of effects against a threat, from disabling to complete destruction.
The deployment on Ponce will prove crucial as the Navy continues its push to provide laser weapons to the fleet at large.
Data regarding accuracy, lethality and other factors from the Ponce deployment will guide the development of even more capable weapons under ONR's Solid-State Laser - Technology Maturation program. Under this program, industry teams led by Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and Raytheon Corp. have been selected to develop cost-effective, combat-ready laser prototypes that could be installed on vessels such as guided-missile destroyers and the Littoral Combat Ship in 2016.
The U.S. Navy will decide next year which, if any, of the three industry prototypes are suitable to move forward and begin initial ship installation for further testing.
"We are in the midst of a pivotal transition with a technology that will keep our Sailors and Marines safe and well-defended for years to come," said Peter Morrison, ONR program manager for SSL-TM. "We believe the deployment on Ponce and SSL-TM will pave the way for a future acquisition program of record so we can provide this capability across the fleet."
Video showing the LaWS in action on board USS Ponce
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