23:29 GMT +322 November 2019
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    US Navy amphibious assault vehicles with Philippine and US troops on board maneuver in the waters during a combined exercise in the South China Sea.

    US Navy to Mount Laser Weapon on Amphibious Assault Vessel

    © AP Photo / Bullit Marquez
    Military & Intelligence
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    The US Navy is bolting a new laser weapon onto the USS Portland amphibious assault ship this year, a top defense official said this week.

    The laser is slated to be installed on the ship by autumn, US Navy Capt. Brian Metcalf said Tuesday at the Surface Navy Association's annual event in Arlington, Virginia.

    The Laser Weapon System (LaWS)
    © AP Photo / US Navy, John F. Williams

    "They've got what I call ‘power modules' that control the laser that will just fit in those open and reserve weight spaces and then the laser itself gets bolted onto the deck," Metcalf said.

    Importantly, though, the laser weapon won't actually see any combat in the near future. "It's not going to be integrated into the warfare system, it won't be providing tracking data or classification data," the captain told USNI News. "It's a technology demonstrator, is what it is."

    Whether the laser will stay on the ship for good or just for a short stint has yet to be determined.

    Animation from a US Navy video showing how the new ship-mounted laser cannon would work.
    US Navy
    Animation from a US Navy video showing how the new ship-mounted laser cannon would work.

    "The ship's going to go use the thing and then we'll start talking about how do you make this part of the ship's total systems. But for now it's a bolt-on, it's designed to be a temporary thing," Metcalf noted.

    The laser weapon system, designed by the Office of Naval Research, was previously tested on the USS Ponce for three years in the Middle East.

    Metcalf said he wasn't well-versed on the laser's specifications.


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    laser gun, amphibious assault ship, Office of Naval Research (ONR), US Navy, Arlington
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