lasers

US Navy photo

PENTAGON: The age of laser weapons has officially begun. Since September, the Navy has had a $40 million, 30-kilowatt Laser Weapons System (LaWS) aboard the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf. “They’re using it every single day,” said the Chief of Naval Research, Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. Sailors — not contractors or engineers — perform basic… Keep reading →

US Army photo

CAPITOL HILL: Where do ground forces fit in the Pentagon’s new offset strategy? The answer may be an intriguing mix of old-fashioned armored forces, mobile missile launchers, and lasers on trucks. While Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s remarks formally launching “offset” were frustratingly vague, we’ve heard plenty from other officials and outside thinkers about how the… Keep reading →

CSBA graphic

WASHINGTON: Someone shoots a cruise missile at you. How far away would you like to stop it: over 200 miles out or less than 35? If you answered “over 200,” congratulations, you’re thinking like the US Navy, which has spent billions of dollars over decades to develop ever more sophisticated anti-missile defenses. According to Bryan… Keep reading →

Gen. William Shelton, commander of US Air Force Space Command.

WASHINGTON: Watch the skies. While they’re far from falling, the head of Air Force Space Command said today, the heavens aren’t the “peaceful sanctuary” they once were, either. Nothing short of a nuclear missile could pull the plug on a satellite constellation as robust as the Global Positioning System (GPS), Gen. William Shelton said, semi-reassuringly.… Keep reading →

Experimental Navy laser

WASHINGTON: Ronald Reagan’s dream of lasers that can shoot down incoming missiles is about to become reality — to an extent. The Navy will deploy a low-power prototype to the Persian Gulf this summer and it sees real potential to zap drones, small boats, and anti-ship cruise missiles. But experts assembled at this week’s Atlantic… Keep reading →

The Navy's "Laser Weapon System" (LaWS) prototype aboard ship for tests off San Diego in 2012.

CAPITOL HILL: Lasers that can shoot down incoming missiles have been a work in progress since Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” days. Now, the Army and Navy not only have working demonstration models but ambitions to field real-world weapons circa 2021. This time, insisted Pentagon science advisor Howard Meyer this morning, it’s really going to happen.… Keep reading →

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 →

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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 →

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