Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Navy Pursuing Upgraded Railgun, Higher-Power Laser Gun By 2020 - USNI News

Navy Pursuing Upgraded Railgun, Higher-Power Laser Gun By 2020 - USNI News: The Navy is pursuing a multi-pronged approach to fielding energy weapons by the end of the decade, with the hopes of upgrading its 30 kilowatt laser gun to 100 kw or more, and giving its electromagnetic railgun a higher repetition rate.

Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller, chief engineer at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), said in a panel presentation at the Directed Energy Summit, hosted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and Booz Allen Hamilton, that both follow-on technologies should be in the hands of sailors in the fleet by 2020.

The Navy sent a 30 kw Laser Weapon System (LaWS) to U.S. 5th Fleet on the interim Afloat Forward Staging Base USS Ponce in September 2014, where it has proven it can augment ship self-defense as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for better maritime domain awareness, Fuller said. LaWS was only supposed to stay out for a year, but despite the harsh environment in the Persian Gulf, it has performed well and fleet leadership agreed it will stay operational as long as Ponce remains at sea – until Fiscal Year 2017 or longer, he said.

“Sometime in the very near future” the Navy will award a development contract for the larger follow-on system, a laser gun of 100 to 150 kw. That weapon will go out to sea for a demonstration by FY 2018, he said, keeping in line with the goal of transitioning technology from the lab to the warfighter as quickly as possible for operational testing.