Amid Red Sea clashes, Navy leaders ask: Where are our ship lasers? (Defense News)


    Amid Red Sea clashes, Navy leaders ask: Where are our ship lasers? – By Colin Demarest, Megan Eckstein and Geoff Ziezulewicz (Defense News) / Jan 22, 2024

    WASHINGTON — The head of U.S. Naval Surface Forces and other brass have praised the work of Navy destroyers operating in the Red Sea, where they have since October shot down scores of attack drones and missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

    But applause from Vice Adm. Brendan McLane and other leaders has been paired with frustrations that warships like the Carney, Gravely, Mason, Laboon and Thomas Hudner are fighting without a potential key asset: the long-planned and ever-elusive laser.

    High-energy lasers, or HELs, and high-power microwaves, or HPMs, would offer the surface fleet another weapon for countering overhead threats, including unmanned aerial vehicles and rockets. Despite decades of research and development and billions of dollars spent for a threat like the one the Navy now faces in the Red Sea, such systems have yet to enter the surface fleet and broader military in a meaningful way, according to outside analysts and service leaders.

    McLane called the glacial development pace “frustrating” in a call with reporters this month.



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