A U.S. Navy ship successfully shot down an aerial drone off the coast of Hawaii with a high-energy laser in the first-of-its-kind at-sea test, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Friday.
The USS Portland on May 16 tested the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator, or LWSD, developed by Northrop Grumman.
“By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the solid state laser weapons system demonstrator against potential threats,” Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer in Portland, said in a release.
The LWSD is one of a series of lasers, or directed energy, weapons being developed by the Navy. The LWSD is a high-energy laser, expected to become a 150-kilowatt weapon, that can only be used on ships of the size and power generation capability of the Portland, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, or landing platform/dock (LPD), ship, that is used to ferry troops and equipment for operations such as beach assaults.
The Navy is also developing lower power lasers that can be used on smaller ships.
LPDs often carry hovercraft, trucks, armored personnel carriers, tilt-rotor aircraft and other heavy equipment in addition to troops.
A video of the test on the website USNI.org showed a bright white beam flashing parallel to the surface of the water and a striking a drone on its wing before the UAV begins to fall.
“The solid state laser weapons system demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy, while paving the way for future weapons systems,” Sanders said. “With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.”
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