US Marines are field testing a new laser weapon system designed to blast enemy drones out of the sky, reported The Sun.
Silent, invisible and precise — the new Compact Laser Weapons System (CLaWS) is a directed energy weapon approved by the Pentagon for use by combat personnel.
The CLaWS is a Boeing built directed energy gun that tracks and destroys mortar rounds and drones. The laser is powered by a vehicle’s or vessel’s diesel engine or separate on-board power generation system.
“Getting the Marines trained, and getting the systems ready to deploy took about one year,” said Lt. Col. Ho Lee, a product manager at Program Executive Office Land Systems.
The Pentagon believes directed energy weapons are much more effective and have tremendous costs savings per round than a conventional missile. The Marines could spend tens of thousands of dollars per missile to eliminate a civilian drone, that might cost less than five hundred dollars. Top military brass believes directed energy weapons could cost several dollars per shot.
The laser weapons are being mounted on the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
CLaWS is a fiber laser that uses special optical fibers as a transmission medium. These lasers are known for high beam quality and can handle vibrations from rough movements during transport.
CLaWS is available in 2, 5, and 10-kilowatt packages from Boeing. It’s not clear which version the Marines are testing.
Earlier this year, we mentioned how the Navy is expected to integrate a directed energy weapon system into a guided missile destroyer.
“We are going to burn the boats if you will and move forward with this technology,” Rear Adm. Ron Boxall said during the Booz, Allen, Hamilton, and CSBA Directed Energy Summit 2019.
The Navy is expected to install the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler (HELIOS) with surveillance sensors aboard an unspecified Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA destroyer, in the early 2020s.
The HELIOS is between 150 kilowatts per shot to 300 kilowatts, much greater in power than Boeing’s.
The Air Force mentioned earlier this year that it completed a series of ground-tests of a new directed energy laser weapon system intended for fifth-generation jets.
“The successful test is a big step ahead for directed energy systems and protection against adversarial threats,” said Maj. Gen. William Cooley, AFRL commander. “The ability to shoot down missiles with speed of light technology will enable air operation in denied environments. I am proud of the AFRL team advancing our Air Force’s directed energy capability.”
The development and possible deployment of directed energy weapons in multiple services come at a time when tensions between the US and Iran in the Strait of Hormuz almost transpired into war last week. Nevertheless, tensions continue to increase in the South China Sea, where the US uses freedom of navigation to sail its destroyers near China’s militarized islands. On top of all of this, the US has entered into an economic war across the world, increasing tensions on almost every continent.