Navy Readies its New Solid-State Laser Weapon System and Rail Gun
The Navy has plans to deploy a new laser weapon system and rail gun within the next two years. These changes come with a few different bonuses, not the least of which being cost effectiveness. Captain Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems, says new technology can help the Navy “get ahead of the cost curve.”
The new Solid-State Laser Weapon system is intended to be deployed on board the USS Ponce this summer. It is designed to be capable of targeting aerial drones, speed boats, and swarm boats. These can potentially be threats to warships in the Persian Gulf face.
The new rail guns are designed to fire projectiles at six to seven times faster than the speed of sound. The Navy’s new rail gun system requires a vast amount of electrical power to fire, and currently the only ship capable of producing the electricity required for this weapon system is the new destroyer, Zumwalt, which is still under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine. Engineers are also working on developing a battery system that will enable the rail gun to be used on current ships.
“It fundamentally changes the way we fight,” states Captain Mike Ziv.
The cost difference between the new systems and current ones is enormous. Whereas one interceptor missile costs approximately $1 million, the new solid-state laser weapon system costs a few dollars per shot. In addition to this, the solid-state laser requires only one sailor to operate.
“It’s fair to say that there are other countries working on this technology. That’s safe to say. But I would also say that a lot of what makes this successful came from the way in which we consolidated all of the complexity into something that can be operated by (a single sailor),” Captain Mike Ziv states.
Navy Readies its New Solid-State Laser Weapon System.