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Seven US Navy warships will receive laser weapon to use it against Asian enemies

WASHINGTON, (BM) – At least seven more US Navy ships will receive ODIN [Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy] laser-guided energy weapon systems, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing the Drive magazine.

Read more: The United States Begin to Develop the Anti-laser Weapon System

About this in his material on the pages of The Drive publication Joseph Trevitik reports. Essentially, ODIN is a laser system for blinding an enemy’s UAV. The principle of its operation is to disable drones sensors and, thus, remove the drone.

However, the author notes, for this laser it will not be difficult to use its capabilities in relation to manned aircraft.

At the moment, only one U.S. Navy ship has an innovation system – this is the USS Dewey destroyer. In the long run, it is planned to equip all ships of the fleet with an ODIN system for protection against drones. In the short term – 7 ships.

The ODIN system has a low-power laser and can dazzle the electro-optical and infrared optics of the enemy, as well as disable cameras that are used on drones and aircraft for reconnaissance purposes.

The Navy command does not disclose the names of the ships that will receive ODIN in the next three years. The author, however, has no doubt that we are talking about destroyers of the Arleigh Burke class.

It is assumed that the weapons will mainly be directed to the east and southeast of Asia, where China is the main enemy of the United States, as well as to the Middle East, where the States have to confront Iran.

Read more: The U.S. Navy tests laser weapon against drone (video)

Iran often used UAVs for surveying US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz, recalls Military Review.

The U.S. Navy already tested a laser weapon against drone

As we reported on May 24, the USS Portland landing craft of the US Navy successfully tested high-power laser weapons that can destroy aircraft in fligh.

CNN notes that the tests, during which an unmanned aerial vehicle in the Pacific Ocean were destroyed, were held on May 16. The television company published videos and photographs showing how a laser beam is directed from the deck of a ship onto the apparatus and incapacitates it. CNN quotes a Navy statement saying it is “the first test of a high-end solid-state laser at the system level.”

The Navy also emphasized that laser weapons provide greater capabilities to respond to various threats. The military did not reveal the power of the laser, but the television company suggests that we are talking about 150 kW.

The weapon can be used both against aircraft and against small boats.

Read more: US Air Force integrates its first high-energy laser weapon systems

The United States Begin to Develop the Anti-laser Weapon System

Last year, the Department of Defense Advanced Engineering (DARPA) of the US Department of Defense announced a competition to develop a system for protecting military equipment from the effects of combat lasers.

According to the task, the system developers must create a promising system that should detect laser radiation, automatically determine the location of its source and disrupt the operation of the emitting installation for several milliseconds from the moment of detection of the beam.

In this case, the system should be suitable for installation on land, air and marine equipment.

It is allowed to use kinetic weapons in the defense system to counter combat lasers. Companies that have already completed analysis of a new system project or laboratory research will be eligible to participate in the competition.

DARPA emphasized that the creation of such systems is a necessity, since, according to military experts, over the next 20 years, laser weapons will become commonplace in military conflicts. On the timing of the creation of a prototype system of protection against laser weapons, nothing is said.

Today, several countries of the world, in particular Russia, China, the USA, France, Turkey and some other countries, are developing combat lasers that can be used to protect military installations from drones, mortar mines, cruise missiles, helicopters and light aircraft. Work on this topic is at various stages of implementation.

Read more: Russian laser weapon shot down an Israeli drone over Syria during combat tests

Cost-Effective Solution Best Suited for Smaller Surface Combatants

This type of system is best suited for surface combatants like cruisers and destroyers. Theoretically, it could be put on any class of ship, but ODIN is not a point-defense type of weapon so installing it on other types of vessels might be counterproductive, Martin noted.

The ultimate scenario when it comes to lasers for anyone in Navy leadership is a powerful laser weapon that would be precise in targeting and capable of destroying enemy craft without the need to use expensive munitions that cost millions for each shot. But the technology appears to be nowhere near that kind of capability.

However, as ODIN shows, this is not the only way to make lasers useful as weapons. ODIN works by emitting an infrared light that interferes with electronic sensors. This disrupts a drone’s ability to target or even navigate, which can cause a threat to crash harmlessly into the water.

ODIN will have some of the same limitations all lasers have: rain, smog and smoke could limit its effectiveness, but it’s another tool in the Navy’s toolbox.

ODIN has turned out to be a cost-effective weapon in a number of ways. Devoting power to a laser is less expensive than destroying an aerial threat such as a drone. Also, the system was developed rapidly and for not a lot of money [at least by Defense Department standards].

“It’s a well-developed concept and something that’s in the millions — not many millions — of dollars, and it could be used across the fleet,” Bradley Martin, senior policy researcher said.

Read more: Turkey Has Developed and Tested Its Own Combat Laser System

He added that he believes we’ll see widespread use of this kind of technology in the Navy within a couple of years. “It’s an urgent need, and it could be used in very short order,” he said.

Martin called it a “good news story” for the Navy.

“A lot of the things they develop, it takes a long time and has to go to somebody outside the Navy to do the work,” Martin said.

Other systems in addition to ODIN are worth watching. With the Navy, Lockheed Martin has been developing the High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) system. HELIOS recently underwent a successful critical design review and could itself be installed on a destroyer.

“HELIOS will provide an additional layer of protection for the fleet — deep magazine, low cost per kill, speed-of-light delivery and precision response,” Brendan Scanlon, HELIOS program director at Lockheed, said in a statement. “Additional HELIOS systems will accelerate the warfighter learning curve, provide risk reduction for future laser weapon system increments and provide a stronger demand signal to the supply base.”

Read more: A Laser Weapon System Preliminary Design Underway from Raytheon

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