U.S. spaceships might not engage in galactic combat in the near future, but the Navy is preparing to deploy a futuristic and powerful laser weapon on its ships within the next two years.
“We’re doing a lot more with lasers,” said Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director of the Surface Warfare Division, at the Surface Naval Association national symposium earlier this month.
Unlike traditional naval guns, Laser Weapon Systems, known as LaWS in military jargon, are measured in kilowatts as opposed to caliber. The Navy plans to test fire a 150 kilowatt laser weapon off a ship within a year. “Then a year later, we’ll have that on a carrier or a destroyer or both,” said Boxall.
The 150 kilowatt weapon is a massive upgrade from the 30 kilowatt AN/SEQ-3 (also known as the XN-1 LaWS) currently deployed on the USS Ponce. The AN/SEQ-3 was first deployed in 2014, and is available to the ship’s commander as a defensive weapon to shoot down incoming missiles, drones, boats and other potential threats.