Navy’s First Deployed Laser Weapon to Become Testbed
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The first laser weapon system (LaWS) deployed on a Navy ship will be used for development of future laser weapons at a land site, a Navy official said.
The SEQ-3 LaWS is a prototype directed-energy weapon system that uses a solid-state laser to disable or destroy aerial and surface targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles and fast-attack craft. The 30-kilowatt SEQ-3 was developed as a Quick-Reaction Capability by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The laser was tested at sea in 2012 onboard the destroyer USS Dewey.
The SEQ-3 was installed in mid-2014 on the forward superstructure of the Navy’s interim Afloat Forward Staging Base ship USS Ponce, which until recently was assigned to the U.S. Fifth Fleet based in the Persian Gulf. The SEQ-3 was used as an optical sensor and demonstrated it ability to destroy fast-moving targets. Ponce was decommissioned on Oct. 13.
“LaWS is in the process of being removed from the ship,” said Colleen O’Rourke, a spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command. “It will then be refurbished, to permit utilization as a land-based testbed at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, Va., where it will be used for further risk-reduction efforts supporting future laser weapon systems.”
ONR has a Solid-State Laser Maturity Program that is developing more capable directed-energy weapons through industry teams.