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US Navy Tests Laser Weapon in Middle East

US Navy Tests Laser Weapon in Middle East
folder_openUnited States access_time6 months ago
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By Staff, Agencies

The US Navy has conducted test-firing of a high-energy laser weapon to destroy a floating target in the Gulf of Aden, a strategic war-wracked waterway off the coast of Yemen.

The navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain, said on Wednesday that the USS Portland fired a prototype Laser Weapons System Demonstrator [LWSD] to "successfully destroy a floating training target."

The USS Portland used the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator in the waterway that separates the Arabian Peninsula from Africa.

The weapon, the Solid State Laser-Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator [LWSD], is the next-generation version of the Laser Weapon System [LaWS] that was previously tested by the USS Ponce in the Middle East, according to the US Navy.

Running at 150 kilowatts, the LWSD is the navy’s strongest laser, some five times more powerful than the 30-kilowatt LaWS, which is capable of downing small aircraft.

The test-firing was not its first trial run as the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator used last year to bring down a drone over the Pacific Ocean.

Gulf of Aden's waters wash up on the southern shores of Yemen, where Saudi Arabia, backed by its regional allies and the United States, has been waging a devastating war since 2015.

The US Fifth Fleet mentioned the significance of testing the LWSD in the Gulf of Aden, saying Wednesday that “the region’s geography, climate, and strategic importance offer a unique environment for technology innovation.”

The US military's testing of new weapons and remote monitoring systems in the Middle East comes amid Iran’s rapid development of drone and defensive missile technology.

Tehran’s advances mean the US military no longer has complete air superiority in the region, the head of US Central Command told Congress earlier this year.

Russia will also add high-powered lasers to its arsenal, President Vladimir Putin said in April.

In an interview last month, Putin said the Russian Navy would soon be outfitted with “new hypersonic weapons systems, high-powered lasers, and robotic systems that will be able to effectively counter potential military threats.”