The Cold War is over, and so is the arms race, or so we thought. The United States Navy has not slowed down in its development of new and fascinating technology, including a laser weapon system. But first, let’s talk about a new and successfully tested a rail gun. What’s a rail gun and why should I care, you ask incredulously? A rail gun uses electromagnets to accelerate a projectile up to 4,500 mph without using gunpowder. The kinetic energy of the projectile is enough to destroy a heavily armored target 125 miles away.
This is a huge game changer. Robert Freeman, the spokesman for the Office of Naval Research, stated that “Our need to carry gunpowder with us is a big vulnerability to our ships. A railgun could eliminate that threat.” It also improves ammunition capacity as the only thing to carry would be the projectiles themselves instead of the projectile and powder used to propel them. Newer ships outfitted with this technology are going to be far more lethal as the Navy explains on its website “The railgun is a true warfighter game changer…Exceptionally quick response, very deep magazines will extend the reach and lethality of ships.” The demonstrations of this awesome new ‘Star Wars’ tech are nothing short of wicked cool. The capability of this new weapon system allows the Navy to achieve greater force protection by complimenting and replacing older systems.
While the rail gun is certainly cool, it’s definitely not as cool as friggin’ lasers on shark’s head! Ok, the Navy isn’t mounting lasers on sharks heads, but it is mounting them on combat and transport ships, so it’s kind of like mounting them on friggin’ sharks heads. The LaWS (Laser Weapon System) navy laser weapon system has been deployed on the transport ship USS Ponce since 2014 for field testing. This weapon as we can all guess operates at the speed of light and because it’s a beam and not a projectile Lt. Cale Hughs of the USS Ponce talks up the laser system saying that “We don’t worry about wind, we don’t worry about range, we don’t worry about anything else, we’re able to engage the targets at the speed of light.” The Navy has successfully demonstrated the LaWS against drone sized targets and smaller boats quite successfully with this navy laser weapon system.
With all the ‘Star Wars’ technology coming into its own era, how long will it be before this technology is miniaturized and put into the hands of the average soldier, weighing them down less, making them more mobile and more lethal as well? One thing is certain, the United States Navy is breaking the mold again, just as they did with aircraft carriers. Navy laser weapon system upgrades are indeed something we can’t wait to see more and more of! The Navy is always on the cutting edge of technology and we don’t expect them to stop anytime soon.