The Office of Naval Research (ONR) recently declared their intent to create a prototype of solid-state laser weapon. These laser-based weapons will enable the sailors to combat small boat threats and aerial targets without the need for bullets. The prototype will however represent multi-mission capabilities of a Navy ship on board.
The Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) initiative’s program officer, Peter Morrison explains the need and importance of progressing with solid-state lasers. Development of weapon prototype and advancements of related technology are more important than concentrating on limited demonstrations.
On May 16, ONR will host an industry day, through which the program’s main objective and other related information will be announced to the R&D community. A Broad Agency Announcement will then be pronounced in order to seek proposals and bids.
Over the years, the Navy’s development of advanced directed-energy technology has contributed to kilowatt-scale lasers that can function as weapons. The Maritime Laser Demonstration formulated a proof-of-concept technology, as part of the initiative followed by its validation at sea on a decommissioned Navy ship. A small boat target was proven for disabling capability. Furthermore, the Laser Weapon System proved its capability to shoot down four small unmanned test aircraft.
The SSL-TM program is a development initiative of ONR's previously directed-energy developments. This program is an advancement of other laser research programs like Eglin Air Force Base-tested MK 38 Tactical Laser Demonstration. Department of the Navy anticipates becoming the premier armed forces to make use of high-energy laser weapons.