Thursday, August 17, 2017

Laser Weapon System (LaWS)

The AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System or XN-1 LaWS is a directed-energy weapon developed by the United States Navy. The weapon was installed on USS Ponce for field testing in 2014. In December 2014, the United States Navy reported that the LaWS system worked perfectly, and that the commander of the Ponce is authorized to use the system as a defensive weapon.

LaWS uses an infrared beam from a solid-state laser array which can be tuned to high output to destroy the target or low output to warn or cripple the sensors of a target. Among the advantages of this device versus projectile weapons is the low cost per shot.
The LaWS is designed to be used against low-end asymmetric threats. Scalable power levels allow it to be used on low-power to dazzle a person's eye to high power to fry sensors, burn out motors, and detonate explosive materials.

Against a vital point on small UAVs, one can be shot down in as little as two seconds. When facing small boats, the laser would target a craft's motor to disable it. LaWS is accurate enough to target explosives if on board. Against larger aircraft like helicopters, it is able to burn through vital components, which would cause them to crash.
LaWS will act as a short-range, self-defense system against drones and boats, while more powerful lasers in the future should have enough power to destroy anti-ship missiles. LaWS are meant to complement other missile and gun-based defense systems rather than replace them.

While lasers are significantly cheaper and have virtually unlimited magazines, their beams can be disrupted by atmospheric and weather conditions and are restricted to line-of-sight firing to keep the beam on target. Conventional systems will remain in place for larger and longer-range targets that require the use of a kinetic defense.