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posted by Dopefish on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the shoop-da-woop dept.

Sir Garlon writes:

"According to the Associated Press, the US Navy has announced plans to actually deploy an operational laser weapon aboard the USS Ponce later this year.

The solid-state laser weapon system is designed to target what the Navy describes as 'asymmetrical threats.' Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.

'It fundamentally changes the way we fight,' said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command."

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by MrGuy on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:52PM

    by MrGuy (1007) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:52PM (#2385)

    Think you're reading too much into the way they use the word "continuously."

    From TFA:
    "The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.
    For the Navy, it's not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out."

    It reads to me like the intended use of "continuously" is "doesn't require ammo, so you're never out of lasers," not "can turn it on and keep it on continuously for a long period of time." There are references later in the article to the cost "per shot" on the laser that backs this up.

    Can't comment on what that means for your assessment of the laser's internal tech - you seem to know more than I do.

    By the way, seems like the reporter doesn't know how a railgun works based on that second paragraph - unlike a laser, a railgun most definitely needs some kind of ammo to fire, and will most certainly "eventually run out" just like missiles and bombs. You can maybe fire cheaper ammo, but it ain't free (and for what I'm assuming is an extremely high velocity round, you need something properly weighted and carefully machined for aerodynamics.

    Oh, and also, I'd be more impressed by the "railguns are cheaper!" argument if they've solved the problem of having a railgun that can fire somewhat frequently without tearing itself apart and requiring extensive maintenance.

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