The Navy’s ships could have laser weapons within two years
‘On directed energy’ — the term for the Navy’s laser cannons, ‘I’d say two years,’ Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of the Office of Naval Research, told Danger Room in a Monday interview. The previous estimate, which came from Klunder’s laser technicians earlier this year, was that it will take four years at the earliest for a laser gun to come aboard.
‘We’re well past physics,’ Klunder said, echoing a mantra for the Office of Naval Research’s laser specialists. Now, the questions surrounding a weapon once thought to be purely science fiction sound almost pedestrian. ‘We’re just going through the integration efforts,’ Klunder continued. ‘Hopefully, that tells you we’re well mature, and we’re ready to put these on naval ships.’
Klunder isn’t worried about the ships generating sufficient energy to fill the laser gun’s magazine, which has been an engineering concern of the Navy’s for years. ‘I’ve got the power,’ said Klunder, who spoke during the Office of Naval Research’s biennial science and technology conference. ‘I just need to know on this ship, this particular naval vessel, what are the power requirements, and how do I integrate that directed energy system or railgun system.’
That’s a relief for the Navy. It means that the Navy’s future ships probably won’t have to make captains choose between maneuvering their ships and firing their laser weapons out of fear they’d overload their power supplies.
But shipboard testing is underway. Klunder wouldn’t elaborate, but he said that there have been ‘very successful’ tests placing laser weapons on board a ship. That’s not to say the first order of business for naval laser weaponry will be all that taxing: In their early stages, Pentagon officials talk about using lasers to shoot down drones or enable better sensing. Klunder alluded to recent tests in which the Navy’s lasers brought drones down, although he declined to elaborate.
Makes you wonder how little Willard actually knows about military technology.