02:58 GMT10 August 2020
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    A photo recently posted by the US Navy holds an unexpected gem: one of the submariners is holding what appears to be a laser dazzler rifle, a type of nonlethal weapon used either to get someone’s attention or to frustrate their ability to observe or target the boat.

    It’s not exactly a blaster rifle, but the US Navy has a laser weapon that can provide valuable defensive cover for boats in the fleet.

    The Navy posted this image of the Virginia-class submarine USS Minnesota on July 26, but the photo dates to December 2019. The story is about an award given to the crew of the nuclear-powered attack sub, but it’s the man in the photo kneeling on top of the boat’s sail who happened to have the laser dazzler for the shot.
    Sailors assigned to the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Minnesota (SSN 783) stand topside as they pull into their homeport at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., Dec 20, 2019, following a deployment.

    According to The Drive, the weapon is a Glare LA-9P, built by BE Meyers & Co, a weapon with a range of 2.5 miles. The device can be used to get the attention of a craft approaching the US Navy boat or it can be used to “dazzle” the optical systems of a drone or the eyes of a person attempting to take aim at the sub or ship. It even includes a special device to prevent it from hitting someone’s eyes with an intensity that could cause permanent damage.

    According to the company, the Glare LA-9P packs a 250-milliwatt beam. A handout on dazzlers from the Department of Defense shows what it might be like to be hit by one of the devices, and the document includes a photo of a laser dazzler on top of a humvee, showing some of the diverse ways in which the Pentagon might seek to use one.
    The high-intensity laser light of an optical distracter captures the attention of the targeted vehicle’s driver

    A laser dazzler is far from the first nonlethal weapon US Navy ships have sought to use to deter unwelcome approachers. The long-range acoustic device (LRAD) sound cannon now most commonly used by US police against protesters was initially designed by the US Navy as a defensive weapon for its warships after a suicide bomber on a small water craft blew a hole in the side of the destroyer USS Cole when it was moored in Yemen’s Aden harbor in 2000, killing 15 sailors and injuring 39.

    US Navy ships will soon pack their own larger, more powerful optical dazzlers, too. Frank Peterkin, the senior technologist for directed energy at the Office of Naval Research, said earlier this month the Navy wants to have eight warships equipped with the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN) laser defense system by 2023.

    ODIN has already been mounted on one US warship, the destroyer USS Dewey. Like the smaller dazzler the rifle, it will be used to jam the optical sensors on drones, but the Navy hopes it can throw off the targeting systems on cruise missiles, too. However, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has been very tight-lipped about ODIN’s capabilities, Sputnik noted.

    The U.S. Navy Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf.
    © Photo : US Navy//John F. Williams
    The U.S. Navy Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf.

    The Navy is also working on a host of more powerful laser systems that might one day be able to shoot down drones and missiles, with the goal of introducing a 150-kilowatt weapon in the form of the High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) or the Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD).

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    Tags:
    Rifle, US Navy, optical disruptor, laser weapons
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