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The US Navy is planning to equip a destroyer with a laser system by 2021

The US Navy is planning to equip a destroyer with a laser system by 2021

The US Army UU He is increasingly looking for the use of lasers on the battlefield, and a new report suggests that the Navy plans to equip a destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class with a HELIOS laser defense system in 2021.

The director of Navy surface warfare, Rear Admiral Ron Boxall told Defense News that the service plans to install the high-energy laser and the integrated optical slider with surveillance system on the USS Preble for 2021. It will replace a Existing defensive platform called the Rolling Aerial Missile (RAM) system, which was designed to intercept and destroy incoming missiles and other threats before they hit a ship.

The Navy began testing a precursor laser system, the AN / SEQ-3, in 2013 as a proof of concept that could be used against small drones or boats that were then put into operation on board the USS Ponce as of 2014 that the ship was decommissioned last year. The Navy awarded a $ 150 million contract to Lockheed Martin to design, build and deliver a successor system by 2020: two laser systems, one of which would be installed on board a ship, while the other would be used to conduct tests on the White Sands Gama missile in New Mexico. Lockheed Martin is expected to deliver the system next year.

HELIOS is a close defense system that is designed to protect against a variety of threats, such as small boats, drones and missiles . The system is a 60-kilowatt laser that could eventually reach 150 kilowatts and connect directly to a ship's power source. Lockheed Martin says he will not have to bring extra power packs or batteries to the ship. It fits within the power of the ship. " The system will also connect to the existing Aegis Combat System, an automated system that uses radar on board the ship to guide weapons to their targets. With that in mind, Boxall pointed out that the system could be more than just a weapon: you can also send data to Aegis. "Many people think that lasers are just something that shoots, but lasers are also a very good sensor. As you get closer to a radar, your radar gets worse. As you get closer to a laser, it gets better, "he said.

Other branches of the military have also been working to develop their own laser systems.The US Air Force recently conducted a successful test with a A system called Self-Protector High-Energy Laser Demonstration (SHiELD), which used to shoot down several missiles in flight, laser systems are attractive for a couple of reasons: they can reach an objective instantly and will not be limited by a limited magazine. There are some drawbacks: Laser systems can only attack one target at a time, and analysts say that even when ships are equipped with lasers, they are likely to continue to carry missile defense systems for the time being.

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