After decades and decades of research and experimenting, the time has finally come to add deadly lasers to U.S. Navy ships' arsenals, the sea service has decided.
That's right, the Office of Naval Research is moving forward with a plan to arm ships with solid state lasers capable of taking out small enemy vessels that could be used in swarming attacks or suicide bombing mission against American warships.
“We believe it’s time to move forward with solid-state lasers and shift the focus from limited demonstrations to weapon prototype development and related technology advancement,” said Peter Morrison, program officer of the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation program in a May 8 press release announcing the effort.
ONR wants to capitalize on the work it's done with BAE Systems to marry lasers to the Mk 38 chain guns that are already used to defend ships. The latest versions of that weapon system can be remotely controlled and tied to a number of video and infrared sensors. As we've said before, combining all that with lasers will make the naval versions of the Mk 38 all the more deadly to anyone who gets the wrong idea while piloting a small boat near an American warship.
Want to sell your laser to the Navy? You're in luck, ONR is hosting an industry day on May 16 "to provide the research and development community with information about the program," reads the service's announcement. Potential laser-dealers can expect a request for proposals soon after that, according the announcement.
Click through the jump for video of one of ONR's experimental lasers frying the engines of a small boat.