(Washington, DC) If swarms of enemy small attack boats armed with guns and explosives approached a Navy ship, alongside missile-armed drones and helicopters closing into strike range, ship commanders would instantly begin weighing defensive options – to include interceptor missiles, electronic warfare, deck-mounted guns, or area weapons such as Close-in-Weapons System.
Now, attacks such as these will also be countered with laser weapons added to the equation, bringing new dimensions to maritime warfare on the open sea.
By 2021, U.S. Navy destroyers will be armed with new ship-fired lasers able to sense and incinerate enemy drones, low-flying aircraft, and small boat attacks — all while firing at the speed of light.
Lasers have existed for many years, but the Navy is now adjusting emerging tactics, techniques, and procedures to how new high-powered, ship-fired lasers will change ship defenses….and attack options.
Lockheed Martin and the Navy have been working on ground attack tests against mock enemy targets to prepare high-energy lasers for war. The weapon, called High-Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-Dazzler with Surveillance – or HELIOS – is engineered to surveil, track, and destroy targets from an integrated ship system consisting of advanced radar, fire control technology, and targeting sensors.