Shipboard prototype tactical laser weapon engages swarms of small, fast attack boats in Navy tests

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EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., 31 Aug. 2011. Laser weapons experts from the Boeing Co. Directed Energy Systems segment in Huntsville, Ala., the BAE Systems U.S. U.S. Combat Systems segment in Minneapolis, and the U.S. Navy have tested a shipboard prototype tactical laser weapon based on the Navy's Mk 38 MOD 2 deck gun, during which experts tested the laser weapon against a simulated attack by fast, maneuvering small attack boats, intermingled with neutral boat traffic.

The tests of the Mk 38 MOD 2 Tactical Laser System (TLS) concept were at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Mk 38 tactical laser system is a proposed high-energy laser addition to the Mk 38 25 mm heavy machine gun deployed on most of the Navy's surface warships. Tests demonstrated a capability to identify and classify hostile targets and provide rapid hand-off to the Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated Experiments (MATRIX) system for attack, officials say.

The test system fired against surface vessels and aircraft to demonstrate a range of target effects -- including swarm tests against fast, maneuvering small boats, which demonstrated a consistent ability to detect, track, classify and engage threat vessels at tactically relevant ranges, officials say.

The tests used the Air Force Research Laboratory MATRIX laser test bed and Boeing's 10-kilowatt International Photonic Group (IPG) fiber laser.

“The Mk 38 Tactical Laser System concept was able to discriminate specific target features while tracking fast moving small boats. It was able to engage precise targets with laser energy at tactically relevant ranges," says Chris Abbott, science advisor for commander of the U.S. Second Fleet.

For more information contact BAE Systems U.S. Combat Systems online at, or Boeing Directed Energy Systems at

Related stories

-- Tactical laser weapons technology demonstrates its readiness for deployment;

-- Tactical laser weapons technology entering its most difficult phase; and

-- Laser weapons development is pushing laser technology out of the laboratory and into directed-energy weapons applications in the field.

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