Lasers certainly can’t be classified under conventional ordnance at this point in time, taking such technology in combat is offered deemed to be too futuristic, something straight out of Star Wars if you will. But the U.S. Navy has its sights set on the future, and its more than willing to take lasers into combat. It has revealed plans of deploying the first laser gun on a ship later this year, and also has plans to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype on a ship as well within the next two years.
While the laser that will be deployed aboard USS Ponce this summer is still a prototype, the technology has evolved to a point where only one sailor can operate it. Program manager for directed energy and electric weapons systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command, Capt. Mike Ziv, said that this technology “fundamentally changes the way we fight.” There’s one big advantage to be gained by leaving conventional ordnance such as missiles in favor of lasers and rail guns, its a lot cheaper than smart bombs or missiles, which one can quite easily run out of. The laser will be used to target asymmetrical threats, these can include swam and speed boats as well as aerial drones, the Navy deems them credible threats in the Persian Gulf where USS Ponce is going to be deployed.