Lockheed Touts New Laser for Potential Navy Use
By WILLIAM MATTHEWS, Seapower Special Correspondent
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Boasting that it delivered a “world-record” laser to the Army in mid-March, weapons maker Lockheed Martin came to the Navy-oriented Sea-Air-Space Exposition April 3 to suggest that it could do the same thing — or better — for the sea service.
On March 16, Lockheed delivered a 60-kilowatt laser to the Army. The laser is designed to fit on the back of a large armored truck and serve as a defensive weapon to shoot down enemy mortar rounds and other munitions that are fired at U.S. troops.
A similar laser installed on a ship could be used to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles and disable enemy small boats, said Jim Murdoch, an international business development director for Lockheed.
And because Navy ships are larger than Army trucks, the 60-kilowatt laser might be scaled up to 100 or even 200 kilowatts, he said.
For two years, the Navy has experimented with a 30-kilowatt laser deployed on USS Ponce, an Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) operating in the Persian Gulf. And the Navy is interested in more.
On March 24, it issued a request for information (RFI) “seeking industry inputs on laser weapon system development solutions applicable to U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyers.”
The Navy wants information about 60-kilowatt lasers, but also stressed that the RFI “is intended for planning purposes only.”
Murdoch, a former Navy officer, said lasers have much to offer the Navy, including “the opportunity to use a couple of bucks of electric power” to defend a ship with a laser beam rather than using munitions that cost a thousand dollars apiece or missiles that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each.