According to a report published by the United States Congress on October 15, 2020, three new ship-based laser weapons being developed by the U.S. Nav including the Solid-State Lasers (SSLs), the ElectroMagnetic RailGun (EMRG), and the Gun-Launched Guided Projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP)—could substantially improve the ability of U.S. Navy surface ships to defend themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).
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U.S. Navy USS Portland (LPD 27) conducts a Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) test in the Pacific, May 16, 2020. (Picture source U.S. Navy)
The U.S. Navy in recent years has leveraged both significant advancements in industrial SSLs and decades of research and development work on military lasers done by other parts of DOD to make substantial progress toward deploying high-energy SSLs on Navy surface ships.11 Navy surface ships would use high-energy SSLs initially for jamming or confusing (i.e., “dazzling”) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, for countering small boats and UAVs, and potentially in the future for countering enemy missiles as well. High-energy SSLs on Navy ships would generally be short-range defensive weapons—they would generally counter targets at ranges of about one mile to perhaps eventually a few miles.
Between 2009 and 2012, the US. Navy successfully tested a