Farnborough: Raytheon’s Navalized Laser Fries Aerial Drone

Raytheon married-up a 32 kilowatt solid state laser to the Navy’s Phalanx close-in defense system and used it to shoot down four aerial drones off the West coast. Laser Phalanx detected, tracked and shot down all four target drones, Raytheon’s Mike Booen tells DOD Buzz’s Colin Clark. Check in often over at DOD Buzz for frequent Farnborough Air Show updates. Colin’s initial take: a black rain cloud of declining U.S. and European defense budgets has settled over the show.

— Greg Grant

  • John Moore

    Thats wicked, ? what the range and how many shots can it get off b4 it’s drained?

    How long does it take to fry and object?

    Would like to see this on all navy ships!

  • Charley

    It would be interesting to know what how long the laser needs to be focused on the target to destroy it, and the recycle time before shots, and what speed and range limitations are. How well will it perform in cloudy/stormy conditions? Hopefully it is powered from the ship and not an integral powerpack of some sort. Anyway, this is definitely a great application of a directed energy weapon that can hopefully be developed for use against supersonic cruise and ballistic missiles.

  • Sev

    Benefits could be reduced operating costs for the navy. Missiles are expensive. If they invested in the laser, they could use fewer missiles and use the laser instead. Now the laser can’t work in all situations (heavy cloud cover), so missiles will still be a key armament. But, it’s advantages do warrant further investment in my opinion.

  • Ryan

    This is a really pointless achievement. A 32 kilowatt laser is still only one-third the power of what a proper military-grade laser should be. Furthermore, mounting it on a CIWS merely points out that you can mount it on an outdated tracking system that can’t engage modern anti-ship ballistic missiles with high-g terminal maneuvers. In summary then, we can now mount a weak laser on an outdated tracking system. YAWN!

    • Ing3nium

      Why don’t you go build at 100 KW laser. Do you know where to start? Its not a simple thing. The first airplane wasn’t a aerodynamic jet fighter, it would be rather dumb to assume lasers can instantly become combat effective.

  • mark

    The point is not the wattage or lack of MW, nor the use of the old track system: if the will was there it could be fitted to the Type 42 tracking system for example, with extra coding and mouting fit; the point is what this system WILL be in 4 years time.
    Its proof to ‘they who need shiny physical things and not paper’, that it WORKS and can grow into something with further funding
    Just confirms future wars will be massive platform, with long range kinetic rail poweron one side,and SOF on the other. .

  • Larry

    Any news about Northrop Grumman’s FIRESTRIKE laser?

    I think their solid state 15kW modular laser would be much better.

    Take 7 of this 15kW blocks, get one 105kW laser.

  • Znarf

    Didn’t realise the “UAV problem” is a big problem for the navy….

  • Stephen Russell

    Apps for:
    Carriers, DD, FG, CG, SSN: mount on fwd sail section?
    & shoreside.
    Radical use,. or on LCS ships & amphibs.
    Or use shoreside on bunkers, stores.

  • @Earlydawn

    Some people are hammering this like it’s a field model. It’s a proof-of-concept. Also, I’m not entirely convinced that low-energy lasers don’t have any use. They might be deployable in an interim capacity for blinding sensor heads on missiles, or warping control surfaces. Also, how about the strobe effect? Flickering a low-energy laser on a vulnerable area of a weapon may be able to stress the frame, much like overtempering a piece of metal. Think outside the box, people.

  • STemplar

    I bet a speed boat load of idiots with AKs and RPGs wouldn’t like having it waved all over them. If it sets UAVs on fire l bet it will give an Iranian Revolutionary Guard member a sun burn.

    • Tim

      LOL… That’s so funny yet so true. They might have to equip the Guard with extra sunscreen just in case.

      Anyway, this news is quite encouraging, albeit it is still a long way from practical application. Also, people forget that it is the last line of defense considering how they tied it to the Phalanx system. For over the horizon, there are other toys.

  • Oblat

    Laser weapons are a failed idea but they have one big advantage - they generate a lot of good PR amongst the technically illiterate. In the industry they call it the star wars effect.

  • Jay

    i believe this is a good investment. it saves money and resources by using 1 $1million laser to destroy 10 targets ? or 10-15 $300,000 SAMS to take out 10 targets. now we know that the only way these lasers wont be used is in bad weather conditions. so missiles can be another card as a further option. its a real budget saver. :p MORE LASERS!

  • Parry Doc LZ

    Amazing how a TV show from the 70’s and a film can spark and idea and bring it to life.
    laser are line of sight and are limited by that whole curviture of the earth. For you blog jockies that have never been on a ship in combat the phalanx or CWIS has limited rounds about 1500 per load = about 30 seconds of fire time. a recharging laser would be an improvement and would provide greater protection of the ship and the crew. Rail guns are a great weapon as well and would decrease the need for manufacture munitions. All this requires huge amounts of power so a second reator maybe needs to supply these items. The navy is not going to use just one type of system it will and always use several diffrent offensive and deffensive weapons systems.

    Great test
    Popeye would be proud, LOL

  • blight

    Chemical lasers are more powerful, but the chemicals used are bulky, toxic and have to be replenished. ABL was a chemical laser if I recall correctly, and there might’ve been another chemical laser somewhere in the works.

    Bear in mind the more powerful the laser the bulkier it gets. And there’s an upper limit on bulk when you need to build to mount aboard destroyers, cruisers, frigates and LCS. Miniaturization will be as big a pain as scaling up power output.

  • Terri

    We should sell this system to Pakistan, since they have trouble with drone attacks. They are our allies right? They are at Red Flag at Nellis this week.

  • Parry Doc LZ


    I know it must be tough being taken serious when your wear your Luke Skywalker costume, and I support your George Lukes focus life style. I also must concede that starwar and startrek have been some of the insperation to the brillant people who have developed this.

    However there have been some serious post to this blog, so let me help you focus here. The U.S. Navy does not have a deatstar, capital ship, or armed gallatic cruisers. and yes you have use nieave three times now, you do get to keep in you vocabulary. otherwise post something that contributes to the topic or at least be more curtious to the other posters.

    and may the force be with patawan

  • Paul

    If a nation is going to attack a US Ship then they’re going to come at it with more than one shot. The CIWS can put a metal round in its path and it doesn’t have to wait for it to get hot enough to burn it up. Not to mention the cost. Bullets are cheap. A lifetime of ammunition for the Phalanx would never come close to the cost of maintaining a laser. Maybe they should spend the research dollars on developing the Star Trek transporters….. or a shuttle craft, that would be cool too.

  • STemplar

    They represent a capability that has a use, not a replacement for all other systems, but lasers will have a seat at the table. They provide options in both defensive and offensive situations we don’t currently possess. This test is a serious proof of concept, a real laser was attached to an existing CIWS, and it shot down real targets, at sea. That’s a pretty huge step towards an actual deployed weapon.

  • greg

    just keep the imported R&D scientists away from this and we won’t see china and russia with knockoffs in 5 years!! Also the application of lasers as weapons is huge!! Lets not let the idiots in the whitehouse put promising programs like this on the chopping block..

    There is also a huge solar charging potential for lasers so there is another direction to go..
    Lets keep things realistic with this, its a golden deal!!