U.S. Navy Demonstrates High Energy Laser (HEL) for Ship Self-Defense

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Someoneforyou, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

    Jan 26, 2011
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    Testing Moves Navy Closer to Lasers for Ship Self-Defense

    ARLINGTON -- The Office of Naval Research and its industry partner marked a milestone for the Navy by successfully testing a solid-state, high-energy laser (HEL) from a surface ship, which disabled a small target vessel, April 6.

    "The success of this high-energy laser test is a credit to the collaboration, cooperation and teaming of naval labs at Dahlgren, China Lake, Port Hueneme and Point Mugu, Calif.," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr. "ONR coordinated each of their unique capabilities into one cohesive effort."

    The latest test occurred near San Nicholas Island, off the coast of Central California in the Pacific Ocean test range. The laser was mounted onto the deck of the Navy's self-defense test ship, former USS Paul Foster (DD 964).

    Carr also recognized the Office of the Secretary of Defense's High Energy Joint Technology Office, and the Army's Joint High Powered Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) program for their work. MLD leverages the Army's JHPSSL effort.

    "This is the first time a HEL, at these power levels, has been put on a Navy ship, powered from that ship and used to defeat a target at-range in a maritime environment," said Peter Morrison, ONR MLD program officer.

    In just slightly more than two-and-a-half years, the MLD has gone from contract award to demonstrating a Navy ship defensive capability, he said.

    "We are learning a ton from this program�how to integrate and work with directed energy weapons," Morrison said. "All test results are extremely valuable regardless of the outcome."

    Additionally, the Navy accomplished several other benchmarks, including integrating MLD with a ship's radar and navigation system, and firing an electric laser weapon from a moving platform at-sea in a humid environment. Other tests of solid state lasers for the Navy have been conducted from land-based positions.

    Having access to a HEL weapon will one day provide warfighter with options when encountering a small-boat threat, Morrison said.

    While the MLD test proves the ability to use a scalable laser to thwart small vessels at range, the technology will not replace traditional weapon systems, Carr added.

    "From a science and technology point of view, the marriage of directed energy and kinetic energy weapon systems opens up a new level of deterrence into scalable options for the commander," said Carr. "This test provides an important data point as we move toward putting directed energy on warships. There is still much work to do to make sure it's done safely and efficiently."

    Source: U.S. Office of Naval Research
  3. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

    Jan 26, 2011
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    U.S. Navy, Northrop Grumman Accomplish Goals for At-Sea Demonstration of Maritime Laser

    High-Energy, Solid-State Laser Shows Lethality Against Small Boat Threats

    NAVAL BASE VENTURA COUNTY POINT MUGU, Calif., April 8, 2011 -- The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) have successfully demonstrated high-energy, solid-state laser defenses at sea by completing a "counter-material" test of the Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD) against small boats.

    Northrop Grumman designed and built the MLD for the Office of Naval Research, leveraging a laser built by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command /Army Forces Strategic Command and the High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office.

    Open ocean tests were conducted between October 2010 and April 2011 at the Pacific Ocean Test Range near San Nicolas Island off the Central California coast. For these tests, the laser system was installed on the Navy's Self Defense Test Ship, the USS Paul Foster.

    While underway, the MLD system initially tracked and lased land targets. The solid-state, directed energy system then tracked and damaged moving, remotely piloted, unmanned small boats traveling at representative speeds and ranges, company executives said.

    "The results show that all critical technologies for an operational laser weapon system are mature enough to begin a formal weapon system development program," said Steve Hixson, vice president, space and directed energy systems at Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "Solid-state laser weapons are ready to transition to the fleet."

    Hixson said the MLD team accomplished several notable firsts, including:

    •First Navy laser system to go to sea, installed on a decommissioned Spruance-class destroyer, for the program's culminating demonstration;

    •First Navy laser system to be integrated with a ship's radar and navigation system; and

    •First electric laser weapon to be fired at sea from a moving platform. Other tests of solid-state lasers for the Navy have been conducted from land-based positions.

    "During the latest demonstrations, MLD spent a total of three days at sea, during which we operated the laser at high power more than 35 times," according to Dan Wildt, vice president, directed energy systems. "The laser withstood the stresses of wave heights up to seven-and-a-half feet."

    Laser Maturity

    "Based on Northrop Grumman's proven laser technology developed for the Defense Department's Joint High Power Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) program, the MLD system is proving the readiness of laser systems for shipboard use," Wildt said.

    "This is phenomenal for a first-generation demonstrator, and proves we know how to fully ruggedize operational systems to follow. We have demonstrated the ability of lasers to address one of several threats of interest to Navy," he continued.

    Results of the at-sea tests will be used by the Navy to help guide engineering manufacturing development phase of a Navy laser weapon system and transition it to a program of record for up to eight classes of ships the Navy has identified as likely platforms.

    Capability & Affordability

    According to Jay Marmo, the company's MLD program manager, the open ocean tests collectively showed that a laser weapon system can effectively operate in a challenging maritime environment and overcome such obstacles as atmospheric conditions, waves and the motions of both the host and target vessels, while also meeting capability requirements for self-defense.

    "In the future, lasers will operate synergistically with kinetic energy weapons to optimize ship defenses," Marmo said. "Lasers can address a number of emerging threats, enabling the fleet to maintain freedom of operation, yet with a very low cost of operation. Lasers will offset the use of higher cost kinetic defenses for a number of these threats, substantially reducing the total cost of ship defense."

    As a primary provider of high-power laser defense systems for the U.S. military, Northrop Grumman has built a number of high-energy lasers that have shot down airborne threats in flight. Major laser systems the company has developed include Mid Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser, Alpha, Tactical High Energy Laser and the megawatt-class laser aboard the Airborne Laser Test Bed, along with the JHPSSL system.

    The Office of Naval Research successfully disables a small target vessel using a solid-state, high-energy laser mounted onto the deck of the Navy's self-defense test ship, former USS Paul Foster (DD 964).



    Source: Northrop Grumman Corporation
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011

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