Laser weapon system installed on USS Ponce
The USN has installed a laser weapon prototype on board USS Ponce, its interim Afloat Forward Staging Base vessel stationed in Bahrain.
A prototype 30 kW-class solid-state laser (SSL) weapon system developed under the leadership of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the LaWS integrates six commercial 5.4 kW fibre lasers with a beam combiner originated by the Naval Research Laboratory.
To reduce costs, the program has re-used some hardware previously developed or procured for other research applications.
LaWS testing began in 2009.
In 2012 the system completed successful at-sea tests on the Arleigh Burke-class Flight III guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey.
During testing from Dewey between July and September 2012, the LaWS system (temporarily installed on the ship's flight deck) successfully shot down three threat-representative unmanned air vehicle (UAV) targets.
The laser evaluation on Ponce is expected to last for a period of 12 months.
The ship, based in Bahrain and assigned of the US 5th Fleet, received the LaWS installation in late August and has subsequently conducted at-sea tests.
The LaWS system has been fitted on the deck atop of Ponce's bridge, with the beam director housed inside a shuttered deck house that opens and retracts prior to operations. - IHS/Janes