The USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research-sponsored Laser Weapon System LaWS in the Persian Gulf.US Navy photo by John F. WilliamsReleased
The request outlines a directed-energy counter-UAS system that works with existing command-and-control systems and “may employ a modular structure capable of interfacing with existing weapon system platforms and sensors to tailor configuration to tasking.”
The document said the Air Force had issued the request to “explore cost-effective acquisition options to provide this capability starting in” fiscal year 2018.
The Air Force says directed-energy weapons offer precise targeting with minimal collateral damage and low exposure for Air Force personnel and could cut down on the use of fuel and other resources. The service has been contemplating laser-weapon systems for some time.
A possible design for a drone-mounted laser interceptor.missilethreat.csis
Lockheed Martin’s ATHENA laser-weapon system.Screenshot via LockheedMartinVideosYouTube
The development work being done on laser-weapon systems is focused on increasing the power of existing lasers and introducing guidance systems.