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Big Laser Guns For the Navy!

Amazing stuff, but I won't really be happy until Special Forces troops are issued lightsabers.

Stephen Green


February 21, 2014 - 7:00 am


Welcome to the Laser Navy:

The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.

For the Navy, it’s not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out.

“It fundamentally changes the way we fight,” said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command.

The Navy’s laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by a single sailor, he said.

The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as “asymmetrical threats.” Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.

All that power in the hands of a single sailor. It’s not just a high-tech weapon, but fully deployed lasers and EM guns would reduce the Navy’s logistical needs by… well, by a lot.

Amazing stuff, but I won’t really be happy until Special Forces troops are issued lightsabers.


Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Stephen Green began blogging at in early 2002, and has served as PJMedia's Denver editor since 2008. He's one of the hosts on PJTV, and one-third of PJTV's Trifecta team with Scott Ott and Bill Whittle. Steve lives with his wife and sons in the hills and woods of Monument, Colorado, where he enjoys the occasional lovely adult beverage.

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All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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To use the terminology of the Golden Age of Science Fiction:
Needle Beams, Death Rays, and Meteor Cannon :)
Less dramatic but more critical are the superconducting
motor-generator and the Polywell fusion plant.
As Murray Leinster pointed out, a warship is a machine
designed to waste energy, the more the better.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Do we really need a diversion/light-relief as silly and adolescent minded as this:

"Amazing stuff, but I won’t really be happy until Special Forces troops are issued lightsabers."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Light sabers for Special Forces?

No way. Not practical.

They are an ultra-short range weapon - contact distance. If our guys are fighting at that range, it's typically in stealth mode (like, take out the sentry kind of thing), otherwise they'd be shooting.

Light sabers are noisy, and well, two words: "Light discipline".

Okay, for the non-military types, "light discipline" means keeping all lights, uh, unlit, at night, so that you don't announce your location to the enemy. Cigarettes can get you and your buddies killed. No worries about secondhand smoke.

So, how's that work for our SF guys? There you are, in full blackout garb, with your face blacked out too, you painstakingly, silently sneak up on a sentry, you carefully position yourself behind him, then you wait. Wait for the guards in the machine gun tower to look the other way, wait for the searchlight to pass by and give you 15 seconds of darkness in which to take out the sentry.

Then you pull out your light saber and waaaaaannnggg whooooossh, your great sound effects basically yell, out, "HEY! we're here to attack you!", while you light up the whole area like daylight so they can't miss exactly where to fire.

Maybe not the best idea I've ever heard!


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dear SF guys, Are you willing to carry a tool that:
1. cuts through *anything* including TradeFederation battleship meter thick blast doors?
2. is impervious to even Dagobah swamp water?
3. can fall at least a hundred meters onto a Genovasian steel landing platform, remain perfectly functional and not even show a dent?
4. seems able to run for hours off it's internal battery pack?
5. makes far less noise than a breaching charge?
6. can slice up armored combat robots without even slowing the swing?
7. gives off far less light than thermite?
8. is ready to use in less than a second?

I know SF guys, and the answer will be "Right now, and I don't care who I have to kill."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Light sabers are not for special forces - they're for Combat Engineers! Talk about your "dynamic entry!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All of this is possible because the Navy has nuclear power available on ships, and decades of experience using that power.
Not sure if the prototype ship is nuclear powered, but imagine a ship with the nuclear power of an aircraft carrier, omit the giant size, omit all those stupid planes, fuel, bombs, etc. A relative handful of engineers and sailors could hold off any force on the high seas today.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1. USS Ponce is an LPD, an amphibious ship.
2. It is not so much about lots of power, but lots of power all at once. Nuke provide continuous power but not surge power. The key is large banks of capacitors that can discharge huge amounts quickly and recharge quickly.
3. Lasers have some serious limitations. Smoke screens will come back in vogue for sure. Nor do they have an over-the-horizon capability. One of the reasons big gun development, pre-radar, stopped at 25 or so miles was that was all the further line-of-sight could see.

Nukes do have a value all their own. No tankers. Tankers are the weak link, large slow and warships have to visit them every three to five days, including the carrier (airplanes need gas).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You forget submarines and torpedoes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Then someone will want to point them at Goldberg's volcanoes. Just wait for Sharknado III 3d
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Can they shrink the size so they can put them on sharks?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Certainly Dr. Evil.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They should call the system "The Shark"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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