US Navy to equip destroyers with anti-missile lasers over 'Chinese and Russian threat'

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Ships will be installed with the Solid State Laser, known as SSL-TM, which will unleash a 150 kw laser weapon.

A High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance, known as HELIOS, along with a 60 kw laser weapon will be fitted on an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in 2021.

And an Optical Dazzling Interdictor, ODIN, will also go on the same destroyer later this year, the US Navy said.

According to The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, they will serve as a deterrent to potential Chinese or Russian cruise missiles.

Frank Peterkin, the Navy’s senior technologist for directed energy, told USNI News: “We’re not fielding these in large numbers, but we’re fielding them – and it’s an important step, I think, because we get a lot of operational feedback that we would never get otherwise.

“You can do everything in the world to understand how you think laser weapons are going to be used, but you put this controller in the hands of a sailor who’s going to play with it and do the thing they do with the operational interface, and then they’re going to decide to use it in ways we can’t imagine. 

“Plus, we’re exercising logistics, training, the safety assessments that have to happen. 

“So we burn down a lot of that operational learning and operational risk by forcing these out to the fleet. 

“And they do provide some (warfighting) capability, it’s just not the capability of having one on every ship.”

He added: “We don’t want to wait for the next step to learn this stuff that we can learn now.

“This won’t change just because we go to a higher power laser.

“So we can burn down a lot of this operational risk, not just for the interactions and the interface but also being in close proximity to other weapons. 

“And how do you coordinate, how do you decide what to shoot and when, things like that.”

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