USS Portland Shoots Drone With Laser

| May 23, 2020

A US Navy ship firing a laser beam. 

In 2014, the USS Ponce deployed to the Persian Gulf with a laser weapon. After they successfully tested that laser weapon, the Ponce’s commanding officer requested permission to use it as a part of their defense system. They received that permission.

Now, the USS Portland successfully shot a drone with a laser. This is not the end of testing, the Navy plans to continue to refine and test its laser systems. Will the Navy develop these lasers to the point to where they could take down one of those Chinese “Carrier Killers”? What about a fast patrol boat?

From USNI News:

The weapon had been undergoing testing at a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, Calif., where engineers could test subsystems to reduce risk before sending the weapon system to conduct land-based testing and then the at-sea testing on Portland.

The Navy is also working on a less powerful laser weapon, the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS), which is planned to reach 60 kw and could be installed onto ships like today’s fielded destroyers that have less power margin to add in new systems. The Navy is also pursuing an Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN) that would not be used to knock down incoming threats but would rather be a non-lethal option to warn away enemy craft approaching a U.S. warship.

In addition to Northrop Grumman’s work on the SSL-TM on board Portland, Lockheed Martin is also pursuing a 150kw laser weapon. The Navy announced earlier this year that it would put a laser weapon — an early version of this weapon system, still at a lower power level, USNI News understands — on USS Little Rock (LCS-9), a Littoral Combat Ship deploying to U.S. 4th Fleet later this year.

USNI has the full article here, including video. You could also watch the video below.

Category: Navy, Science and Technology

Comments (58)

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  1. Skippy says:

    It amazing that this works so well
    But but does or How well will this work when
    China’s doctrine is to use overwhelming force
    To over power a adversary
    The senerio like them launching several hundred
    Ship killing missiles at once ???

    • Slow Joe says:

      That would be a major escalation of any conflict, deserving a much stronger response…

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      You mean like how the Communist Chinese sent wave after wave of Soldiers into our fields of fire during their offensive in the Korean War, mostly unarmed in order to make our Personnel exhaust their ammunition supplies and then they’d make another offensive?

    • AW1Ed says:

      Before they can shoot, Skippy, they first have to find. Break the targeting chain and there is no attack.

      • thebesig says:

        When I was in the Navy, one of my duties involved over the horizon tracking. Finding a US ship, over the horizon, won’t be easy… It would be near impossible. They have to have up to date targeting and tracking capabilities. Things don’t work like they do in the movies. Additionally, the infrastructure that the Chinese have in place to make those carrier “killers” operate is vulnerable to attack.

        • AW1Ed says:

          Anti-Surface Warfare was another trick in the P-3’s hat. We could ID, track and attack from FAR outside the bad guys anti-air missile systems envelopes, or pass off the track to a third party to handle.

        • Commissar says:

          Finding a US ship over the horizon is happening in real time every single day in the Chinese military.

          They have an entire strategic defense apparatus that pinpoints the locations of our key surface vessels every moment of every day 24/7.

          Things have changed quite a bit since you served.


          • SFC D says:

            Why are you not making an obscene amount of money in the defense industry with your vast knowledge of all things warfare?

            • Mason says:

              To be fair, the sailors are probably tweeting out their location every fifteen seconds if they’re like most kids these days.

              I doubt China invests so much in technology to do it when we’ll do it for free for them. Like how the Iraqis could just watch CNN instead of having to have a military intelligence apparatus.

              • thebesig says:

                The ship could shut internet capability off, something they do when OPSEC and other factors come into play.

          • thebesig says:

            False. Not even the most advanced US, Russian, or European satellites today have the capability to pinpoint where US Navy ships are over the horizon in real time.

            All three are more advanced than the Chinese, and have more advanced satellites in orbit than what the Chinese have. Take a look at what the Chinese are using to calibrate their satellites. Much wider than what the west is using to calibrate their satellites.

            Take a look at the satellite photos that were taken of the Chinese Navy doing a mass navy exercise. It’s clear, from the way that they were maneuvering, that they had not seen how the US Navy maneuvers in the high sea. Otherwise, they would’ve adopted what we do to avoid detection. They didn’t.

            Had they possessed the “real time over the horizon tracking” that you claimed, they would have in no way sailed in the formation they were captured sailing in.

            Their strategic defense apparatus is capable of detecting line of sight, within horizon, spaces. That could expand beyond the horizon given atmospheric conditions.

            The system required to support their ability to fire those CV killers is vulnerable to destruction.

            Technology may have changed since I was in the Navy, but the laws of nature, physic, etc., have not.

            What’s clearly seen here, between our arguments, is that I actually have operational experience in the topic that we are talking about. You don’t have a clue about what you’re talking about.

            And, once again, Civil Affairs gets destroyed by PSYOP.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      That assumes a reasonably high level of reliability in advanced systems fielded by the ChiComs. 100 ChiCom missiles, while nothing to sneeze at, become somewhat less intimidating when 8 won’t even power up, 16 more fail to launch, 15 randomly explode, and 40 more fail to guide.

      • Commissar says:

        Their systems are less intimidating when you completely make up utterly bullshit stats about how unreliable they are.

        WTF? What are you even trying to accomplish with that bullshit.

        Modern Chinese missiles are both accurate and reliable.

        • The Other Whitey says:

          Where do you get your info, Lars? Oh, that’s right, you swallow everything any communist puts in your mouth. And then you claim to be an expert on anything and everything.

          What exactly is the failure rate for their missiles, dickhead? How many launches have been attempted, vs how many successfully hit a target? How many different ways can such a system go wrong before you pull the trigger? How many different ways can it fuck up once it’s in the air? Have you ever researched this shit? Of course not. Why don’t we just accept your word as gospel and surrender now? Asswipe.

          • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

            That will leave a mark…

          • Commissar says:

            I am basing my information on how accurate and effective their slightly older generation missiles have proven themselves to be in contemporary conflicts.

            You are basing your information on outdated, anachronistic, Cold War and ignorant assumptions about “Chicom” technology.

          • Commissar says:

            And sometimes the shit you say about military capabilities, especially in regards to China sounds like you are roll playing as someone who has military experience.

            There is literally no basis to believe Chinese missiles are unreliable, inaccurate, and in effective.

            Especially since the stuff they have sold to other countries have proven to be plenty reliable and accurate.

            • The Other Whitey says:

              What the hell is “roll playing,” Lars? Rolling dice? Rolling a ball? Stop, drop, and roll?

              You go on and on and on about all kinds of subjects on which you demonstrably know jack shit. Remember not so long ago, when you (under your Cuntholio alias) tried to claim expertise on wildland fire behavior, management, and suppression? That’s just a low-hanging fruit example. Maybe you might wanna think twice about the glass house in which you chuck stones, dickshitter.

              What Chinese anti-ship missiles have been “proven accurate and reliable,” and in which conflicts? One would think such naval engagements, even between third-world countries, resulting in losses of major surface combatants with notable implications for the US Navy would be newsworthy. And unless you know exactly how many missiles were fired, at how many targets, how many of them hit, damage inflicted by each hit, and under what circumstances (weather, countermeasures, defenses, etc), you have fuck all. Even then, one incident doesn’t establish a pattern. You need multiple data points for that (statistics, remember? ).

              I bet the Navy Bureau of Ordnance would’ve loved your ass in 1942. “There is nothing wrong with the Mk 14 torpedo! No, we didn’t need to do any live-fire tests with it! These submariners who report that it malfunctions every time it’s fired are clearly wrong!”

        • 26Limabeans says:

          I’ll bet the paint fades before they
          reach the target.

  2. 26Limabeans says:

    “Optical Dazzling Interdictor”

    Yes she was. And I fell for her.
    The sunlight shining through her hair.
    But I got burned. Badly.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      It’s somewhat comforting to see how rapidly some of those burn out, though. I can think of one such example who was quite dazzling at the time. Post-breakup, I was pretty depressed. Several years and several relationships later, I met my wife, and changed my outlook on the original subject to “Dodged a bullet on that one!”

      Then, by an improbable set of circumstances, I saw her on a Netflix documentary (seriously, what are the odds? ) and beheld the aftermath of said burnout. Bullet, my ass! I dodged a fuckin’ tank round!

      • AW1Ed says:

        There’s a story in there, TOW. Send me a link and we’ll make her TAH famous.

        • The Other Whitey says:

          Obliged, Ed, but no need. I’m happily married to a woman who’s much more beautiful on the inside and the outside, and have four incredible kids with her. Life is pretty good.

          • 5th/77th FA says:

            ^WORD^ TOW! Living well and happy is the best revenge Brother. I personally have dodged everything from a Time on Target Fire Mission, Rolling Barrage, and a full blown nuke strike. Finally was told it wasn’t my fault and they lost out on the best thing that ever happened to them. Life is good!

          • AW1Ed says:

            Absolutely your call, TOW, but I had to ask. What Gun Bunny said.

  3. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    “Phaser banks, fire!”

    • The Other Whitey says:

      Frickin’ laser beams!

      Shark headmounts optional.

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        I always thought those phaser sound effects sounded an awful lot like cicadas or some of the other, more obnoxious night bugs in the summer time. Just crank the sound level up and BINGO!!!! You have a phaser on stun or worse.

  4. 5th/77th FA says:

    FREE!!!!DOM!!!! BONE!!!!ER!!!!

    Now, when we gonna see some of them photon torpedo thingies? Unlike a certain Saturday in December, during an intramural athletic contest, this is one time when we can say…Go Navy, Go Navy, Go Navy.

    Oh…btw…During that above mentioned contest? We HOLLAR OUT…GOOOOOOO ARMY!!! BEEEEEEAAT NAVY!

  5. The Other Whitey says:

    Drachinifel, the great sage of all things nautical engineering & history on the Tube of You, has discussed the possibility that advances in laser/directed-energy point-defense systems could potentially usher in a rebirth of heavy naval guns, due to the fact that shells are substantially less susceptible to being killed/deflected by a laser than even the most effective missiles. Not a guarantee, mind you, just a possibility.

  6. Sapper3307 says:

    Looked like an old Pioneer drone.

  7. Commissar says:

    This has a great deal of potential value for our fleets.

    However, it is not sufficient to protect against a near peer threat.

    China has been developing most of their military technology to accomplish one priority mission; neutralizing our Naval forces if necessary.

    There is no way to adequately protect our fleet from a determined technologically advanced adversary.

    China has no desire to engage in a war with the US.

    We should keep it that way.

    We would not lose the war but the costs are not worth it. Period.

    We gain no real long term advantage from having a war with China and pay massive short and medium term costs.

    There is no reason to do it.

    The saber rattling and using China as a political scapegoat for domestic policy failures needs to stop.

    • UpNorth says:

      Why, you sound like a campaign adviser for Slo-Joe. Bet you want the US to apologize for finding out that the Wuhan Flu came from Communist China, too?
      Do you get daily briefings via tele-conference, or do they email your talking points to you?

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      They have been at war with us since 1949.

    • Commissar says:

      Holy fuck you guys says some moronic shit when it comes to China.

      I swear to god I sometimes think I am talking to a bunch of armchair hobbyists whose entire understanding of this issue is 1980s VHS documentaries.

      • Slow Joe says:

        What’s a VHS?

      • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

        Commissar Seagull, here YOU are, a babbling brainwashed lunatic regurgitating the propaganda spoon fed you by your handlers at UC Berzerkely. Tell us again how much you’ve worked in the private sector in your adult life once again, willya? I don’t see you ever being anything BUT a nameless Government bureaucrat.

        • The Other Whitey says:

          He’s achieved a far higher plane of uselessness. He’s a career college student who will never contribute a damn thing to anything except his own ego, and possibly a sperm bank.

      • The Other Whitey says:

        Oh, Lars…
        May your chains rest lightly and history forget ye were ever our countryman.

      • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

        How do you say “waterboi” in Mandarin?

      • thebesig says:

        Holy fuck you guys says some moronic shit when it comes to China.

        I swear to god I sometimes think I am talking to a bunch of armchair hobbyists whose entire understanding of this issue is 1980s VHS documentaries.

        False, our understanding of this issue stems from our continued follow up of geo-strategic, geopolitical, geo-economic, etc. topics.

        This includes following up on the states of the military of nations that threaten us.

        Here’s an axample… There’s more where this came from: