The Office of Naval Research (ONR) continues to seek industry proposals to develop an affordable solid-state laser weapon prototype for Navy ships, part of a broad agency announcement published Aug. 14.
“We are in the process of developing a laser weapon prototype for the naval surface fleet to counter small unmanned aerial vehicles and small boat threats,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder.
ONR hosted an industry day in May to provide the research and development community with information about its Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) program. Managers incorporated feedback into the announcement, which solicits industry’s investment in the program on a number of levels, from subcomponents to systems design.
“We’re looking for an open systems solution to this warfighting capability because we believe it’s cost effective and can provide the best value to the government,” said Peter Morrison, ONR program officer.
The SSL-TM program builds upon ONR’s directed-energy developments in kilowatt-scale lasers. Among the programs, the Maritime Laser Demonstration developed a proof-of-concept technology that was tested at sea in 2011 aboard a decommissioned Navy ship. The demonstrator was able to disable a small boat target.
During the first week of August off the California coast the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), ONR and Navy Air and Missile Defense Command (NAMDC) sponsored a series of successful laser weapon concept development tests aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer. The Navy intends to use the technical data collected from this test to inform potential development of a Navy laser weapon system.
All of these efforts could help the Department of the Navy become the first of the armed forces to deploy cost-effective, high-energy laser weapons.