(NationalSentinel) Once considered nothing more than science fiction, laser weapons are a reality today. And the U.S. Navy is preparing to put them aboard warships.

As reported by Scout Warrior, the Navy is a year away from deploying more lethal, powerful lasers that will be capable of destroying incoming small vessels, aircraft, drones and missiles, say service leaders.

09-02-16-03-17-18_promo_article_160x600-option-11“We’re doing a lot more with lasers,” Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director of the Surface Warfare Division, said earlier this month at the annual Surface Naval Association national symposium.

Within a year the Navy plans to fire a 150 kw laser from a warship, Boxall said. “Then a year later, we’ll have that on a carrier or a destroyer or both.”

SW noted further:

That’s quite a jump from the kilowatt AN/SEQ-3 (XN-1) Laser Weapon System (LaWS), which deployed in 2014 on the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce.

And the kind of power needed to power such a weapon won’t come with a simple flip of a switch.

“The Navy will be looking at ships’ servers to provide three times that much power,” noted Donald Klick, director of business development for DRS Power and Control Technologies. “To be putting out 150 kws, they (the laser systems) will be consuming 450 kws.”

That is more power than most ships are currently designed to accommodate-at least when they are conducting other operations.

“Few power systems onboard ships can support sustained usage of a high-powered laser without additional energy storage,” noted a recent Naval Postgraduate School paper titled “Power Systems and Energy Storage Modeling for Directed Energy Weapons.”

“The new DDG-1000 may have enough electrical energy, but other platforms … may require some type of ‘energy magazine.’ This magazine stores energy for on-demand usage by the laser,” the paper noted. “It can be made up of batteries, capacitors, or flywheels, and would recharge between laser pulses. The energy magazine should allow for sustained usage against a swarm of targets in an engagement lasting up to twenty minutes.”

The laser system to be placed aboard ship later this year for testing has been years in the making. Currently, the Navy is working on a three-year deal with defense contractor Northrop Grumman to quickly burn enemy drones, small boats, aircraft, ships and missiles.

“This system employs multi-spectral target detection and track capabilities as well as an advanced off-axis beam director with improved fiber laser technologies to provide extended target engagement ranges. Improvements of high power fiber lasers used to form the laser beam enable the increased power levels and extended range capabilities. Lessons learned, operating procedures, updated hardware and software derived from previous systems will be incorporated in this demonstration,” Tom Beutner, director of the Air Warfare and Weapons branch, Office of Naval Research, told Scout Warrior in a written statement at the time of the contract announcement.

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