The bottom-based laser system homed in on the pink drone flying by, capturing a high-energy beam invisible to the bare eye. Abruptly, a fiery orange glow flared on the drone, smoke poured from its engine and a parachute opened because the craft tumbled downward, disabled by the laser beam. The February demonstration marked the primary time the U.S. Navy used an all-electric, high-energy laser weapon to defeat a goal representing a subsonic cruise missile in flight. Often called the Layered Laser Protection (LLD), the weapon was designed and constructed by Lockheed Martin to function a multi-domain, multi-platform demonstration system. It might counter unmanned aerial methods and fast-attack boats with a high-power laser—and likewise use its high-resolution telescope to trace in-bound air threats, help fight identification and conduct battle harm evaluation of engaged targets.

The drone shoot-down by the LLD was a part of a latest check sponsored by the Workplace of Naval Analysis (ONR) on the U.S. Military’s Excessive Vitality Laser Methods Check Facility at White Sands Missile Vary in New Mexico. The demonstration was a partnership between ONR, the Workplace of the Beneath Secretary of Protection (Analysis and Engineering) and Lockheed Martin. The LLD testing helps a broader effort by the naval analysis and improvement neighborhood, partnered carefully with the fleet, to mature applied sciences and subject a household of laser weapons that may tackle a number of threats utilizing a variety of escalating choices. These capabilities vary from non-lethal measures, comparable to optical “dazzling” and disabling of sensors, to destruction of a goal. Laser weapons present new precision and velocity of engagement for naval warfighters. Additionally they supply simplified logistics which can be safer for ships and their crews, as lasers will not be depending on the standard propellants or gunpowder-based ordnance discovered on ships.


As a substitute, trendy high-power lasers run on electrical energy, making them inherently safer and in a position to present weapon functionality so long as a ship has energy. This additionally means the associated fee per engagement for a laser weapon may be very low, for the reason that solely consumable merchandise expended is gas to run the system. For years, the Division of Protection (DoD) and all of the Providers have acknowledged the promise of directed-energy weapons comparable to lasers, and proceed to prioritize analysis. Not too long ago, the Beneath Secretary of Protection for Analysis and Engineering, the Hon. Heidi Shyu, re-affirmed that directed power is without doubt one of the DoD’s vital know-how areas. ONR performs an necessary position in growing applied sciences for laser weapons and has fielded demonstration methods for operational experimentation. Notably, in 2014 ONR noticed the Laser Weapon System examined efficiently aboard the united statesPonce within the Persian Gulf. Extra just lately, ONR fielded the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator aboard the united statesPortland in 2021.

Though there’s no plan to subject the LLD, it provides a glimpse into the way forward for laser weapons. It’s compact and highly effective, but extra environment friendly than earlier methods. It has specialised optics to look at a goal and focus laser beams to most impact, whereas additionally incorporating synthetic intelligence to enhance monitoring and focusing on. In the course of the latest check at White Sands, the LLD tracked or shot down an array of targets—together with unmanned fixed-wing aerial automobiles, quadcopters and high-speed drones consultant of subsonic cruise missiles. Lockheed Martin drew best-in-class laser weapon subsystems from throughout the company, together with key business accomplice Rolls Royce, to help the complete menace engagement timeline from goal detection to defeat. US Navy leveraged greater than 40 years of directed power expertise to create new capabilities that help the twenty first century warfighter.

Goal Drone Throughout Excessive Vitality Laser Engagement (Photograph courtesy of Lockheed Martin)