US Navy tests new laser weapon in Middle East


Photo provided by the US Navy observing a demonstration of a high-energy laser weapon system aboard the USS Portland (LPD 27) on Dec. 14, 2021 while sailing in the Gulf of Aden. Photo: US Navy / DVIDS / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin Kates

The US Navy tested a new laser weapon on Tuesday in the Gulf of Aden, between Yemen and Somalia, and hit a floating target, according to a US military press release. And if the Associated Press notes that the navy could soon use this technology to fight unmanned boats sent into the Red Sea by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The laser weapons test was conducted by the USS Portland, which was chosen by the US Office of Naval Research in 2018 to be equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

“During the demonstration, the Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0 aboard Portland successfully hit a surface static training target,” the US Navy said in a statement announcing the test. .

“Portland previously tested the LWSD in May 2020 when it successfully shut down a small unmanned aerial system while operating in the Pacific,” the statement continued.

Amphibious transport docker USS Portland conducts a demonstration of high-energy laser weapon systems on a surface static training target, Dec. 14, while sailing in the Gulf of Aden. Photo: US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert / DVDs

Of the Associated Press:

The Houthis have deployed drone boats in these waters, which can be controlled remotely and directed to a target before being detonated. These boats are suspected of having been built with Iran’s help.

Emirates officials in 2018 showed images they believe came from a drone boat computer on which Iranians were building parts for the boat’s guidance system, with a hat visible in the background of a photo depicting the symbol of Iran’s hard-hitting paramilitary Revolutionary Guards Corps. Iran has denied arming the Houthis, although experts from the United Nations, independent analysts and Western countries point to evidence showing Tehran’s link to the weapons.

And while lasers are only now being deployed on the battlefield here in the 21st century, it’s been a warfare dream for much longer. In fact, the US military first shot down a drone with a laser in 1973 during tests at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Amphibious transport docker USS Portland (LPD 27) performs a demonstration of high-energy laser weapon system on a surface static training target, Dec. 14, while sailing in the Gulf of Aden. Photo: US Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin Kates

But why is the US Navy testing this particular technology in this part of the world? According to the military, it’s just the perfect location.

“The geography, climate and strategic importance of the region provide a unique environment for technological innovation,” the Navy said in a statement.

“The US 5th Fleet’s area of ​​operations includes the world’s largest permanent maritime partnership, the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.”

About 16 million people in war-torn Yemen are currently marching “to starvation”, according to the UN World Food Programme.


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