A US warship is going to be equipped with a laser gun (a “directed energy pulse weapon”) and sent to the Persian Gulf in the near future. Its laser gun has been very effective in its test phase and it can reportedly take out fast-moving boats and slow-moving aerial vehicles. Iran uses fast-moving patrol boats in a “swarm” mode to attack warships so the laser is specifically prepared to counter an Iranian threat. It is extremely cheap to operate (about $1 per firing).
What is not clear is what the fullest potential of this laser gun really is. The CBS link reports that the laser gun can’t take out fast-moving warplanes (or I suppose cruise missiles), but the FOXNews link says it is “unclear” whether the laser gun can do this already. Obviously, the full potential of the weapon would hardly be disclosed in a public media release so the laser gun will have the enemy guessing about its real capabilities until it gets used in combat.
In previous posts, I’ve written that US carrier groups need laser guns to insure their survivability in today’s high-tech threat environment posed by China’s and Russia’s new supersonic cruise missiles, China’s new ballistic missile designed to sink US carriers, etc. Even if the carrier battle group’s Aegis anti-missile and anti-warplane system and the Phalanx point-defense system function perfectly and knock down every incoming target, they will both eventually run out of ammo. At that point the carrier battle group would be defenseless, and China knows this. That is why their strategy is, doubtless, to overwhelm a carrier battle group’s defenses by firing more weapons at it than it can shoot down. In the Cold War, there was an expression that “quantity has a quality all its own” which described the Soviet/Communist strategy of building vast numbers of cheaper weapons systems to overwhelm fewer numbers of high-tech US/NATO weapons systems. China’s war-making strategy vs. the USA (building vast quantities of weapons to fire at US targets) seems modeled on this earlier Cold War strategy.
Perhaps this laser gun being deployed on a US warship is the first step in giving carrier battle groups and US warships greatly-enhanced protection against Chinese/Russian/Iranian/North Korean attacks. This laser gun won’t run out of “ammo.” This is a great development for the US Navy. I hope it can already do a lot more against attacking weapons systems than what has been publicly released. American enemies really won’t know for sure until it is used in combat.