The Boeing-created system, according to a June 19 release from the service, will be the first ground-based laser approved by the Pentagon for use by Marines. It is being fitted on the service’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Popular Mechanics reported.
“CLaWS is not intended to be a standalone system for Marines to use to counter enemy drones,” the release notes. “Rather, if the prototype continues to do well in the current research and development phase, it will serve as a component to an overall system used to counter drones.”
Isaac Neal, a Boeing engineer, previously explained in an August 2015 video release that the system can strike targets at a distance of hundreds of meters, and that it essentially eliminates threats by burning parts of the enemy drone. “Think of it as a welding torch being put on a target,” he said.
Don Kelley, program manager for ground based air defense at Program Executive Officer Land Systems, said in the latest release that the push to begin testing the system “was all in response to a need for counter unmanned aerial systems to take down drones.”
“We developed a CLaWS prototype for Marines to use and evaluate,” he said. “We’re providing CLaWS to Marines as a rapid prototype for evaluation … Depending on the results, CLaWS could become part of a larger capability set.”
Although it’s unclear just how long it will be until the laser is forked over to the whole of the service, officials have indicated that the program is on a “rapid prototyping, rapid delivery” track.