Navy Releases New Laser Weapon Video

Written by Jason Simpkins
Posted May 29, 2020

On May 16, the USS Portland sailed out to sea, where it was attacked by an airborne drone.

With one swift action, the crewmen took aim with America's newest, and most powerful, laser weapon, destroying the target mid-flight.

Furthermore, the Navy was so proud of its new laser weapon (and perhaps eager to demonstrate this capability to adversaries like China) that it released footage of the test on YouTube.

Obviously, laser weapons aren't entirely new to the Navy or other American service branches.

But this one — known as the MK 2 MOD 0, or the Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) — is the most powerful laser weapon that American forces have yet deployed.

The LWSD has an output of 150 kilowatts, making it five times more powerful than other Navy lasers, like the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) that was deployed on the USS Ponce in 2014.

Ponce Laser Cannon

The LaWS, and the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN) laser on the USS Dewey have an output of just 30 kilowatts.

That's enough to shoot down small drones but not larger targets like the one the LWSD took down. The LWSD can also destroy small boats, like the ones that recently harassed Navy and Coast Guard vessels in the Persian Gulf.

It's also more powerful than the three laser weapons deployed by the Army in April.

The High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS), which is mounted on a Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle, has an output of just 10kw, for example.

However, the Army is pushing forward with plans for the most powerful laser weapon to date: The Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL), which aims to deliver 250 to 300 kilowatts of explosive energy.

The Air Force is working on laser weapons too.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has called on contractors to submit plans and ideas for laser and microwave weapons with the ability to “precisely attack ground targets” while defending against “surface-to-air missiles and air-to-air missiles.”

HELWS

And for the last five years, Air Force Special Operations Command has been working to incorporate a high-energy laser weapon on its newest AC-130J gunship. It now plans to test-fire a 60-kilowatt laser in 2022.

"If you're flying along and your mission is to disable an airplane or a car, like when we took down Noriega back in the day, now, as opposed to sending a Navy SEAL team to go disable [aircraft] on the ground, you make a pass over that thing with an airborne laser and burn a hole through its engine," Col. Tom Palenske, then-commander of 1st SOW told Military.com.

Palenske is referring to 1989's Operation Nifty Package mission to capture and remove Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega from power, during which a SEAL team disabled his aircraft so he couldn't escape.

"It's just like that," he said. "And you just keep going on, and there's no noise, no fuss, nobody knows it happened. They don't know the thing's broken until they go and try to fire it up." 

AFSOC had hoped to incorporate the laser onto the aircraft this year, but a lack of funding has long stifled laser weapon development.

However, more recently, with rivals (especially China) advancing their own laser weapons programs, the Pentagon has loosened its purse strings.

The Defense Department has boosted spending on laser technology by more than 200% over the past year. 

And globally, spending on directed-energy weapons has surged from $922 million in 2017 to $1.3 billion in 2018, $1.8 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $2.2 billion in 2020.

That's why I've homed in on a major laser component supplier that's crucial to all of these projects.

The company I've found makes laser diodes — the only ones potent enough to power military-grade laser weapons.

It's the go-to supplier for heavyweights like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. 

And that's why this small supplier is about to see a huge increase in demand for its services. 

You can find my full report on that company here.

Fight on,

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Jason Simpkins

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Jason Simpkins is Assistant Managing Editor of the Outsider Club and Investment Director of The Wealth Warrior, a financial advisory focused on security companies and defense contractors. For more on Jason, check out his editor's page. 

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