Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Navy is requesting Congress for some $300 million to fast-track research into its “Navy Laser Family of Systems,” which will be deployed aboard its major surface warships by the next decade.
At this stage, the Navy Laser Family of Systems consists of four high-energy laser (HEL) weapon systems that can either destroy or blind a range of aerial threats, including unmanned aerial vehicles; unmanned surface vessels, fast inshore attack craft (FIAC); anti-ship guided missiles and manned fighter aircraft.
One of these laser weapon systems is the 60 kilowatt Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLW), which is officially called Project 3402. The Navy wants $190 million to advance this weapon.
SNLWS is a solid-state “advanced prototype laser weapon” to be installed first on the guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) and on two other destroyers later on.
SNLWS can also be used in “Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and Counter-Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C-ISR). It can either dazzle or destroy aerial drones or FIACs.
A second HEL weapon is ODIN, or the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy. ODIN is designed to blind and disrupt unmanned aerial systems and other platforms. It will also address urgent operational needs of the Fleet. Two ODIN systems have already been funded,
The 2019 budget provides for three more. Each ODIN system consists of a Beam Director (Telescope, Optics, Fast Steering Mirrors); two Lower Power Lasers; Sensors (Coarse Track, Fine Track, ISR Imaging); Computer Rack, Network Switches and an Operator Laptop.
The third laser weapon is the 150 kW Solid State Laser-Technology Maturation. This huge weapon will be deployed aboard a San Antonio class amphibious transport dock, of which 11 are in active service.
The third weapon is the Ruggedized High Energy Laser (RHEL,), another 150 kW weapon that will employ “different laser architectures” capable of destroying larger naval targets.
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