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Futuristic laser weapon to be deployed to Persian Gulf in 2014

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 9th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A new futuristic Laser Weapon System, or LaWS, was temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey in San Diego last year and will be deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2014. Officials say the weapon could be used to shoot down drones and disable other ships, all without significant costs for ammunition.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Navy says it will deploy the Laser Weapons System to the Persian Gulf area in 2014. Analysts say this in response to Iran's ongoing development of a fleet of drones.

The high-powered laser weapon will be mounted on the USS Ponce, which is responsible for naval operations in the Persian Gulf area and the Horn of Africa, over the next year. The laser will become fully operational by the summer of next year.

Officials said LaWS may initially be used for encounters with antagonizing small boats and vessels, which Iran has been known to operate. Smaller boats pose a threat to larger Navy ships. The high-powered new technology could eventually be used to combat airborne threats, including missiles and drones.

Officials demonstrated in a video simulation that LaWS, with their high-powered infrared laser, can strike down drones in seconds flat.

In what could be a scene from "Star Wars," the video released by the Navy shows a large mobile laser gun lock target onto an unmanned drone and instantaneously shoot down the object, which explodes and falls to the sea.

"It operates much like a blowtorch ... with an unlimited magazine," a Navy official told reporters.

The major advantage of the $32 million laser could be the large-scale cost-effectiveness of its ammunition.

"Its weapon round costs about $1 to shoot," Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, chief of Naval research, said. In contrast, short-range air-defense interceptor missiles can cost upwards of $1 million each.

The laser still has a handful of major limitations as well. The laser faces such challenges as functioning effectively in bad weather and smoky conditions, both of which can scatter a laser beam, according to a Congressional Research Service report cited by The New York Times.

In addition, potential targets can protect themselves with special coatings and reflective surfaces.

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