A Navy cruiser launches a Harpoon anti-ship missile, a 1977 design unsuited for long-range war in the Pacific.

CRYSTAL CITY: “I’ve never wanted to enter any tactical scenario where all I had is a defensive capability. It’s a losing proposition,” said the chief of Pacific Command,¬†Adm. Samuel Locklear. “You will defend yourself until you’re dead.” That was the PACOM commander’s blunt and public response when I asked him about the chronic imbalance between… Keep reading →


WASHINGTON: To boldly go in a revolutionary ship where no one has commanded before. Why the clumsy Star Trek reference? Because the Navy’s newest, stealthy, most radical ship, the USS Zumwalt, will be commanded by the fabulously named Capt. James A. Kirk. The Navy couldn’t make something like this up, could they? The Zumwalt, launched… Keep reading →

NATIONAL HARBOR: The Navy will send a prototype laser weapon to the troubled Persian Gulf for a roughly year-long test deployment starting “less than a year from now,” the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, announced today at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference.

The bad news is this isn’t some superweapon out of science fiction. The Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWS) is a fairly modest death ray that, for now, can only kill small boats and drones. Unlike the lasers of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars dreams, nuclear missiles aren’t on the menu. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: The Navy’s top admiral talked up cheap ships and high tech this morning, from laser weapons to a new double-decker version of the Mobile Landing Platform vessel (pictured above). Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said precious little about the rolling budget cuts called sequestration. He clearly preferred to emphasize a bold vision of the future rather than the current budget crisis that has forced the fleet to halve its aircraft carrier presence in the volatile Persian Gulf.

Indeed, speaking at a Newseum conference sponsored by McAleese & Associates and Credit Suisse [click here for full coverage], the CNO struck a remarkably optimistic note about the current fiscal misery: “If we get a bill at the end of this month, all of the carrier woes” — delays not just to deployments but to maintenance overhauls — “all go away,” Adm. Greenert said. “The money’s in place; we [just] need the authority to spend it.” Keep reading →

PENTAGON: The Navy’s F/A-XX initiative has been depicted as an ultra-advanced “sixth generation” aircraft that the Navy would prefer to buy instead of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But Breaking Defense interviews with Navy and industry sources strongly suggest that the service has little appetite for another expensive development program and that the most likely candidate for the F/A-XX is, in fact, an upgraded F-35.

“We’re not chasing the next shiny object,” a Navy official told Breaking Defense. “We’re looking to what is the art of the possible with regard to affordable warfighting capability.” Keep reading →

There’s been a fair bit of buzz online of late over experiments with a technology called a “laser-induced plasma channel” – essentially, laser-guided, artificially generated lightning bolts – at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. But, militarily, what’s it good for? Keep reading →

Shipboard laser program launched @ONR ( – for why the Navy needs lasers, see SydneyFreedberg

CSBA talks #lasers @WSJ: For hoi poloi who can’t get WSJ, we talked to CSBA on this 2 weeks ago: SydneyFreedberg

WASHINGTON: Lasers are déclassé even in science-fiction nowadays – the guys in Avatar and Mass Effect shoot bullets – and the big Air Force and Army laser programs of the last decade were ignominiously cancelled. So I was surprised at last week’s Navy League Sea-Air-Space conference to hear “directed energy” technology mentioned by no less a figure than Vice-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson as an area where the defense industry should invest. Keep reading →

It is the stuff of science fiction — or used to be — and could become a game-changing technology if it lives up to the advanced billing. It is microwave directed energy. Raytheon bought a small technology company last week called Ktech with much experience in building relatively compact microwave generators.

Ktech’s combined experience in these fields may well lead to a directed energy bomb capable of frying the electronics of an enemy command center without causing any casualties. Keep reading →