WEAPONS INSIDER – US. NAVY LASER WEAPON SYSTEM

Ushering in precise destruction of long-range targets with solid-state lasers!

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  • 120730-N-PO203-141
    A view of the LaWS with the weapon shield lowered.
    120730-N-PO203-141 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
  • 120730-N-PO203-107
    120730-N-PO203-107 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
  • 120804-N-ZZ999-005
    120804-N-ZZ999-005 PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 4, 2012) As seen in this still image taken from video, the Laser Weapon System (LaWS), temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105), is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
  • 120730-N-PO203-030
    120730-N-PO203-030 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
  • 120730-N-PO203-076
    The LaWS and its shield. Note the temporary mount under the system.
    120730-N-PO203-076 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
  • 120804-N-ZZ999-004
    120804-N-ZZ999-004San Diego (Aug. 4, 2012) A still image from video shows a split-screen view of the Laser Weapon System (LaWS), upper left, striking a remote-controlled target aircraft, The LaWS technology demonstrator is built by Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory, successfully shoots down a target. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. This still image taken from video shows an exercise conducted by a technical team from the Naval Surface Weapons Center Dahlgren Division and managed & funded by ONR, Naval Sea Systems Command, OSD's High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office and supported by U.S. Fleet Forces Command. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
  • 120804-N-ZZ999-002
    120804-N-ZZ999-002 PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 4, 2012) This still image taken from video shows a remote-controlled target aircraft as it is hit by the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) during an exercise conducted by a technical team from the Naval Surface Weapons Center Dahlgren Division and managed & funded by the Office of Naval Research ONR), Naval Sea Systems Command, The Office of the Secretary of Defense OSD High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office and supported by U.S. Fleet Forces Command. LaWS is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
  • 120730-N-PO203-310
    120730-N-PO203-310 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
  • 120730-N-PO203-280
    The LaWS beam projector is similar in appearance to a large reflecting telescope.
    120730-N-PO203-280 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
  • 120730-N-PO203-101
    120730-N-PO203-101 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
  • 120730-N-PO203-088
    120730-N-PO203-088 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
  • 120730-N-PO203-402
    120730-N-PO203-402 SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jul. 30, 2012) The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) in San Diego, Calif., is a technology demonstrator built by the Naval Sea Systems Command from commercial fiber solid state lasers, utilizing combination methods developed at the Naval Research Laboratory. LaWS can be directed onto targets from the radar track obtained from a MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon system or other targeting source. The Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser (SSL) portfolio includes LaWS development and upgrades providing a quick reaction capability for the fleet with an affordable SSL weapon prototype. This capability provides Navy ships a method for Sailors to easily defeat small boat threats and aerial targets without using bullets. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
  • Going Home
    FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit place the casket of Sgt. 1st Class Jason Sargent on a belt at Lawson Army Airfield in preparation for his final flight home to his native Maine. Sargent, 39, passed away June 25 after a courageous fight against a terminal illness. He is survived by his wife Cindi and three children: Nicholas, Andrew and William. (U.S. Army photo by Michael Molinaro, USAMU PAO)
  • Unit
    FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit render a final salute at Lawson Army Airfield for Sgt. 1st Class Jason Sargent as his body is prepared to be flown back to his native Maine. Sargent, 39, passed away June 25th after a brave fight against a terminal illness.(U.S. Army photo by Michael Molinaro, USAMU PAO)

The implements of warfighting have evolved through distinct epochs. The first and by far the longest involved edged weapons. Out from the deepest shadows of prehistory, the earliest edged weapons were stones or wooden clubs that were derived from tools used for daily tasks or hunting. Anything harder than human flesh and bone, and that killed or inflicted injury, was favored. And early humans soon discovered that sharper things killed and wounded more efficiently. Wielded by hand or thrown with force, all these weapons relied on human energy. The Bronze and Iron Ages led to conceptual refinements and truly purpose-built metal weapons that did far more damage. These included mechanical propulsion mechanisms that could throw devices with much more force than a person could. Edged weapons remained prevalent in combat until the 20th century, although their use was largely a holdover based on a nearly endless tradition.

The second era in weaponry involved the utilization of propellants. It began as early as the 11th century with the invention of gunpowder in Asia, but these propelled devices would not become common in the West until the late 16th century. With some sort of propulsion system being their common thread, propellant weapons range from firearms powered by gunpowder ignition (which creates tremendous pressure) to missiles powered by fuel-burning engines (which generate thrust). Such kinetic weapons are overwhelmingly favored today.

The last major weapon development is relatively new, tracing its seminal stages to the mid-20th century. After much experimentation, directed-energy weapons, most but not all of which are high-power lasers, are coming into their own today, in the 21st century. These remarkable devices harness energy sources and concentrate their power into a beam that, precisely aimed at an object, can penetrate and destroy materials and disrupt or disable operational systems over long ranges at the speed of light. “Death rays” have been the stuff of science fiction for years, but today directed energy weapons are solidly in the realm of reality. A case in point is the U.S. Navy’s newly deployed Laser Weapon System (LaWS). The Navy announced in early April 2013 that it will deploy its new system, developed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Sea Systems Command, two years ahead of schedule, expecting to begin combat operations in the Persian Gulf in fiscal year 2014…


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