The US Navy has reportedly installed a new laser cannon capable of shooting down drones on one of its destroyers as the threat from China and Russia escalates.
Laser cannons onboard Navy battleships represents a huge step forward for the US fleet as it scrambles to deploy defences against Chinese and Russian anti-ship missiles.
A photo provided to Tyler Rogoway, a military expert, appears to show the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Dewey at the naval base in San Diego with a new laser weapon on its front deck.
US military chiefs are reportedly developing several directed-energy weapons for shipboard use. At this point, it remains unclear exactly which laser the destroyer carries.
“By our analysis, the most likely answer to what we are seeing on Dewey is the Optical Dazzling Interdictor (ODIN) Navy system, which was set to be installed on a Navy destroyer by the end of this year,” said Rogoway.
ODIN is a lower power laser system that will be used to blind enemy electro-optical and infrared sensor systems by shining a modulated "dazzler" laser beam at them in a similar manner as to how directed infrared countermeasure systems work to defend aircraft from heat-seeking missiles.
The system is also said to be capable of countering ship and boat-based systems, those used by aircraft and drones, and even those used by anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles.
ODIN could complement the existing active and passive self-defence suites on the Navy’s major warships, it has been claimed.
Current defences systems include SM-6, SM-3, SM-2, Evolved Sea Sparrow and Rolling Airframe Missile surface-to-air missiles, Phalanx radar-guided guns, Nulka decoys and the SLQ-32 and SLQ-59 radar-jammers.
Many of the passive defences is designed to disrupt an anti-ship missile’s radar guidance. But more and more Chinese and Russian missiles also feature infrared guidance against which the radar-countermeasures are useless.
ODIN “could blind these missiles, sending them off course or into the sea as they make their kamikaze attack runs,” Rogoway added.
Dewey’s laser is one of two new directed-energy weapons to make a dramatic public appearance in recent weeks.
The U.S. Navy in mid-October 2019 began shipping a powerful new laser weapon from a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California to the Navy base in San Diego.
War Zone was the first to report on the painstaking process of moving the bulky weapon ring and Machete Squad.