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News Picks : US Navy's first laser weapon will enter service this summer

By: Physics Today
07 March 2014
Ars Technica: The USS Ponce is currently undergoing retrofitting to equip the ship with the US Navy's Laser Weapon System (LaWS). LaWS is intended to be a defense system against missiles, rockets, small boats, and light aircraft. It will provide a low-cost alternative to the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), which uses radar-guided Gatling guns firing tungsten or depleted uranium rounds. LaWS lasers cost just $1 per shot. The intensity of the laser is scalable, allowing the system to focus just enough light to set a soft target on fire or blind the target's imaging systems. When the Ponce sets sail with LaWS onboard, the Navy will be testing to see how well the system works in theater. The current LaWS system is primarily constructed from commercially available components paired with the radar system from CIWS. Future versions that may be put into place on the Zumwalt-class destroyers under development will use more efficient power-generation systems.


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