With all the advancements that are being made, it comes as no surprise when we see breakthroughs being achieved in military tech as well. After all, one needs to be capable of defending oneself. US Navy will be deploying the first laser weapon in a couple of months on the USS Ponce and it is being termed as LaWS. The system makes use of fiber-optic, solid state laser as an offensive and also defensive tool. The laser will be capable of working against drones, missiles and other targets.
A weapon of this caliber, logically, is also a must have for the ground vehicles and this is something that has not been overlooked by the US Marine Corps. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has been awarded the task of coming up with a similar laser weapon that can be installed on ground vehicles as part of its Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move (GBAD) program and the Marine Corps Science and Technology Strategic Plan.
Colonel William Zamagni, currently the acting head of ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department, said; ‘We can expect that our adversaries will increasingly use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and our expeditionary forces must deal with that rising threat. GBAD gives the Marine Corps a capability to counter the UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces. GBAD employed in a counter UAV role is just the beginning of its use and opens myriad of other possibilities for future expeditionary forces.’
The GBAD laser will not replace the current ones that are being carried by Marine units but rather compliment the current weapon collection. The GBAD laser is capable of achieving the speed of light and can cover quite long distances while being capable of taking care of incoming missiles that are, mind you, moving at supersonic speed.
Here’s another amazing fact; you need not carry any ammunition for this GBAD laser and it will make the airspace around any Marine deployment practically impenetrable for enemy’s UAVs. The current aim of ONR is to have this setup incorporated on Humvee and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
Brigadier General Kevin Killea, Vice Chief of Naval Research and Commanding General Marine Corps War-fighting Laboratory, said; ‘We’re confident we can bring together all of these pieces (laser, the beam director, radar, the advanced cooling system, power generation, advanced optics, beam control, and the communications and command and control system) in a package that’s small enough to be carried on light tactical vehicles and powerful enough to counter these threats.’
As per the information released by the ONR; the system will be undergoing a series of tests later this year for a 10kW laser, whereas the ultimate goal is to achieve a laser of 30kW in 2016.