On 14 December, the US Navy’s amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) conducted a high-energy laser weapon demonstration in the Gulf of Aden.
The test does send a wider message to regional powers, particularly Iran, whose use of small, fast craft to menace shipping is well documented.
A Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0 installed onboard the USS Portland was successfully used to engage a static surface training target. The system had previously tested in May 2020 when it successfully disabled a small unmanned aerial system while operating in the Pacific Ocean.
According to the US Navy, the USS Portland was chosen to host the laser weapon technology in 2018. The LWSD is considered a next-generation follow-on to the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) to that tested from the forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) for three years.
The region’s geography, climate, and strategic importance offer a unique environment for technology innovation. US 5th Fleet’s area of operations includes the world’s largest standing maritime partnership, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.
by Andrew Drwiega