The U.S. Navy released a statement and detailed the ongoing test of the newest high-energy laser weapon system on board of Amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27).
The details were given in a 22 May media release, to announce that USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) MK 2 MOD 0.
LWSD is a high-energy laser weapon system demonstrator developed by the Office of Naval Research and installed on Portland for an at-sea demonstration. LWSD’s operational employment on a Pacific Fleet ship is the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser. The laser system was developed by Northrup Grumman, with full System and Ship Integration and Testing led by NSWC Dahlgren and Port Hueneme.
At the announcement, Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland said “By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats.”
The U.S. Navy has been developing directed-energy weapons (DEWs), to include lasers, since the 1960s. DEWs are defined as electromagnetic systems capable of converting chemical or electrical energy to radiated energy and focusing it on a target, resulting in physical damage that degrades, neutralizes, defeats, or destroys an adversarial capability.
Navy ships face an increasing number of threats in conducting their missions, including UAVs, armed small boats, and adversary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. The Navy’s development of DEWs like the LWSD, provide immediate warfighter benefits and provide the commander increased decision space and response options.
“The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy, while paving the way for future weapons systems, “ said Sanders. “With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.”
Portland is the 11th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. While it is the third ship to bear the name ‘USS Portland,’ it is the first ship to be named solely after the largest city in Oregon.
As The WarZone previously reported, Northrop Grumman developed the LWSD Mk 2 Mod 0 for the Navy as part of the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) program and delivered it to San Diego for installation on Portland in late 2019, something The War Zone was also first to report. The service had announced that the San Antonio class ship would be the first to carry this laser weapon back in 2018 and had originally planned to conduct the first at-sea tests by the end of September 2019.