Navy Ready to ‘Burn the Boats’ with 2021 Laser Installation on a Destroyer

| March 21, 2019

Artist’s concept of a HELIOS laser system aboard a U.S. destroyer. Lockheed Martin Image

Not so sure about burning larger ships- seems there’s a horizon involved- but for ruining the day of close aboard swarm boats and incoming air hostiles, this could be a game changer. Thanks to the Master Chief for the link.

By: Sam LaGrone
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the next two years, the Navy wants to deploy a laser aboard a guided-missile destroyer as the service learns to integrate directed energy weapon systems on warships, the Navy’s director of surface warfare said on Wednesday.

“We are going to burn the boats if you will and move forward with this technology,” Rear Adm. Ron Boxall said during the Booz, Allen, Hamilton and CSBA Directed Energy Summit 2019.

The service is targeting 2021 to install a High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance weapon system aboard a West Coast Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA destroyer, Boxall said.

The 60-kilowatt HELIOS, much more powerful than the 20-kilowatt laser weapon system the Navy tested aboard afloat forward staging base USS Ponce five years ago, is designed to counter small attack boats small unmanned aerial vehicles.

Last year, Lockheed Martin won a $150 million contract to develop two of the systems – one for shore testing and a second to be installed on a destroyer. The Navy initially planned for the installation in 2020 for what it is calling the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System Increment 1.

HELIOS will serve as an early test case to integrate a laser system into the Aegis combat system of the Navy’s surface fleet. Additionally, the laser system provides a new capability as a sensor to give more precise targeting data than a ship’s combat system.

Read the rest of the article here:

Category: Guest Link, It's science!, Navy

Comments (41)

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  1. Mason says:

    This is pretty freaking cool. But come on, Lockheed. You’re getting $150m and that’s the best “artist’s concept” you can come up with?

  2. Ex-PH2 says:

    So when do the light sabers become available for boarding, pillaging and looting?

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    Marvin the Martian would be so proud. Is he the Technical Advisor? Is Wile E. Coyote involved? Hope the bad guys don’t retain the services of a waskaly wabbit. You’d a thunk some of us old school 40 watt plasma door gunners from the Galactica would of been consulted.

    Be good to see it deployed.

  4. George V says:

    Good technology to have, but I would ask how effective it is when the atmosphere is not clear. Radar guided missiles still work in rain, fog and snow.

  5. 26Limabeans says:

    Now that we can shut down an entire airbase with a five dollar laser pointer lets see how much we can really make it cost.

  6. Perry Gaskill says:

    Admiral Boxall seems to be confusing his metaphors. As a matter of historical trivia, the most famous incident which led to the phrase “burning the boats” happened in 1519 when Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Vera Cruz and set out to defeat the Aztecs. Cortez had his ships burned so there would be no retreat. The only option was to move forward and win, or to die.

    If Boxall was being accurate in wanting to “burn the boats” with dependence on new laser weapons, it would mean the Navy would have to force itself to junk the rest of the weapons in its inventory. Something which is unlikely, and not what he meant to say.

    • AW1Ed says:

      I see this as an improved CIWS or similar point defense system. Big Navy won’t abandon other weapons systems just because of the inclusion of the laser- JMO.

      • 26Limabeans says:

        I got to see a demonstration of the Phalanx while working for an unnamed defense contractor at the Naval Arsenal in Pomona.
        Gun laying radar systems have been around for a long time and I saw the Phalanx as the pinnacle of performance.
        Even a laser system needs to ID, Track and IFF it’s targets so the only thing new would be sending rounds (light is a particle) at the speed of light. BFD.

        Unless you can give it a much longer range.

        • AW1Ed says:

          No ammo to be stored, and as long as you have electrical power, this will shoot. USS Ponce proved the concept in 2014- this is just the next iteration.

        • 5JC says:

          There is a lot more to it than that. Laser weapons are quite complicated affairs to be effective where you want them to be and not where you don’t want them to be.

          However the upside is nothing short of amazing. It’s about the difference between a wooden battleships and those made of metal.

  7. FatCircles0311 says:

    Why is this being advertised.

    Hey, enemies, here is what we are doing and if you can’t figure out exactly what boat it’s this boat!

    Mother of god.

  8. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    They’ve been blabbing about laser weapons for the past few decades, I’ll believe it when I see it and I concur with FatCircles0311 when it comes to their talking about it!

    • The Other Whitey says:

      Wasn’t this the plot of a Dan Aykroyd movie in the 80s?

    • The Other Whitey says:

      And while we’re on the topic, how ‘bout those railguns?

      • AW1Ed says:

        AW1Ed says:

        January 2, 2019 at 5:13 pm (Edit)

        The US Navy’s rail gun program failed a key requirement in number of rounds per minute fired, needs huge amounts of electrical power, and would have to be retrofitted onto existing hulls.

        The Navy is now looking at a hypervelocity projectile instead. While not as capable as far a speeds and ranges as the rail gun, it will fit into existing 5″ naval guns already in wide use, and is a generational improvement over conventional shells.

        “Better is the enemy of good enough” was a saying attributed to a fellow named Sergey Georgiyevich Gorshkov, who happened to be Admiral of the Fleet in the bad old Soviet Union days. A sharp guy who understood that sometimes, quantity has a quality all its own.

        • The Other Whitey says:

          That was my point, that they advertise the next cool new game-changing thing that’s just around the corner, which promptly fails to get off the ground.

          • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

            …while guzzling multiple barge loads of tax dollars!

          • AW1Ed says:

            Each program has a “Classification Guide” that delineates which modes, capabilities, and performance characteristics are classified, and to what level. The United States Naval Institute (USNI) who wrote the article have serious credibility, and knows to stay in their swim lane. They publish exactly what they are provided by Navy PAOs, and the rest is opinion.
            Getting inside the adversary’s head with a teaser of a new capability isn’t a bad thing either.

            • 11B-Mailclerk says:

              “Hypersonic missile” for example.

              Why the fuss? We have had Mach 5+ (Hypersonic) missile capability, and countermeasures, since the 60s.

  9. James Melton says:

    Just use a mirror to deflect the beam back to the source! That’s what the roadrunner would do.

  10. Charles Simmins says:

    I thought they had tried lasers on Ponce when it was with Fifth Fleet.

    • AW1Ed says:

      The AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System was successfully tested on USS Ponce in 2014, against low-end asymmetric threats. The article address this.

  11. Couldn’t a Sailor on an enemy ship use a hand held mirror to deflect the ray back to the sender as in return to sender. Didn’t Flash Gordon and Ming The Merciless use ray guns to shoot down rocket ships that sounded like a 1930’s-40’s electric razor???

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      At high enough energy levels, the impact of the laser beam is impact destructive. The mirror shatters or gets smashed back into whatever is behind it. Or both.

      Truly high-energy lasers do not heat things up. They smash them.

  12. Aysel says:

    Archimedes death ray?

  13. JimmyB says:

    Nobody thought of Dr.Evil and the fire the “laser” line?

    • Dennis - not chevy says:

      OOH, Sharks with frickin’ lasers, cool. The next generation unpersonned nautical attack device; cheaper than a UAV, lives for almost ever, and it never needs maintenance.
      Whoa there, never mind, PETA would get involved.

  14. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    In the not too distant future, on board USS Roboship (CG 100):

    “Set Phasers on slaughter, Mr. Sulu”

    “Aye, Captain – burning the enemy to the waterline”

  15. aGrimm says:

    Dang. What are future war movies going to use for sound effects? My farts reverberate in the bass range better than the non-sound of a laser. I’ll have to bring my own sound effects to the theater – after a bowl of Ex-PH2’s baked beans.

  16. 5JC says:

    For those genuinely curious the lasers are not visible light lasers. A mirror will not reflect them back to their source. A polished mirror surface may have effects but reflecting back isn’t one of them. It is much more likely to burn right through the mirror. Think of it more like an energy beam if it makes it easier.

    The US has been shooting stuff down with lasers since at least the mid 90s. The Airforce even had an Airborne Laser program for a while but the cost and difficulties of flying chemical laser around in a 747 were very challenging and expensive.

    Atmospheric conditions do effect the amount of energy you can push through it. The big advantage of putting them on a Navy vessel is the ease at which they can be moved around, stay on station, stay ready, the amount of on tap energy a Navy vessel can easily generate and lots of other reasons.

    I am strongly in favor of adding the modern DEW capability to all navy vessels.

  17. Messkit says:

    On the plus side, the Blue Oyster Cult can now stage a really awesome show on the fore deck!

    ……..did that just date me?