Update on US Navy’s laser program

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On 1 July the US Congressional Research Service published a 40 page report titled Navy Shipboard Lasers: Background and Issues for Congress. In its summary the report said the US Navy’s (USN) proposed FY2025 budget requests for its continued research and development funding in solid state lasers.

The USN installed its first prototype SSL capable of countering surface craft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on a Navy ship in 2014. The USN since then has been developing and installing additional SSL prototypes with improved capability for countering surface craft and UAVs. Higher-power SSLs being developed by the USN could have a capability for countering anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). USN efforts to develop SSLs include:

  • the Solid State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort;
  • the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN);
  • the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as the high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS); and
  • the High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP).

The report says the key issue for Congress is whether to modify, reject, or approve the USN’s acquisition strategies and funding requests for shipboard laser development programs. Decisions that Congress makes on this issue could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements and the defence technology and industrial base

The full report is at: https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R44175

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