Posted 17 декабря 2021,, 11:10

Published 17 декабря 2021,, 11:10

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Beam Strength: US Navy Tests Laser Weapons in the Gulf of Aden

Beam Strength: US Navy Tests Laser Weapons in the Gulf of Aden

17 декабря 2021, 11:10
Фото: Фото Associated Press
The command of the American naval forces assessed the tests of the 150 kilowatt laser cannon as successful.

Alexander Sychev

The US Navy has tested laser weapons in the Gulf of Aden. The LWSD (Laser Weapons System Demonstrator) Mark 2 Mod 0 laser with a capacity of 150 kilowatts, installed on the USS Portland landing ship, fired at a surface target - a boat. The command of the 5th Fleet, based in the Middle East, assessed the tests as successful. In May 2020, USS Portland fired a flying drone in the Pacific Ocean.

American companies have been developing laser weapons since the 60s of the last century. Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany, China and a number of other countries are also conducting similar work on the creation of laser weapons of various actions.

Interest in laser weapons is explained, of course, not by the colorful fantasies of Hollywood and other film studios, but by its real prospects. The weapon does have a number of attractive advantages, as well as limitations. The list of both is pretty decent.

Это снимок сделан в инфракрасном диапазоне, чтобы был виден луч лазера, уничтожающий надводную цель.Это снимок сделан в инфракрасном диапазоне, чтобы был виден луч лазера, уничтожающий надводную цель.
Это снимок сделан в инфракрасном диапазоне, чтобы был виден луч лазера, уничтожающий надводную цель.

The obvious advantages include, first of all, the fact that the laser beam sweeps at the speed of light, and there is no need to take into account the speed of the target when firing. Gravity does not affect him - he is always straight like an arrow. He shoots while there is electricity. It is possible, depending on the parameters of the target, to change the focus of the beam.

But the disadvantages are also significant. The efficiency of a laser, for example, is highly dependent on atmospheric conditions. In fog and in the presence of dust in the air (tanks passed through dry soil, smoke and soot from fires), the beam is strongly scattered, and its damaging effect drops sharply.

But even if everything is in order with the atmosphere, the laser, hitting the target, evaporates material from its surface. This creates a "vapor" that creates a shadow and thus protects the target. And the presence of reflective surfaces makes this weapon helpless at all.

We should also mention the energy voraciousness of lasers. A large and powerful generator of electric current is indispensable, therefore one can only dream of cinema laser blasters. Modern lasers are installed on a carrier in which there is enough space for a generator: warships (Portland with its 26 thousand tons of displacement is suitable), tractors or transport aircraft. Last October, the US Air Force received a 60 kilowatt AHEL laser, which is planned to be installed on board AC-130J fire support aircraft.

But the current demonstration of the laser is not due to technical needs, but rather political. This was indicated by the Associated Press, which drew attention to the choice of the location for the shooting. The Gulf of Aden is located in a very turbulent region. On the territory of Yemen, for example, a war has continued since 2004, in which the Houthis, a militarized rebel group of Shiite Zaidis, have been fighting the government. During the armed clashes, according to some sources, up to 110 thousand Yemenis were killed. In 2015, the Houthis took over Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, and de facto rule the country.

But the tension did not ease. The authorities of the Arab Emirates tried to add fuel to the fire. In 2018, they showed some kind of video footage of a drone boat that allegedly belonged to the Houthis, and on which the symbol of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, the guard of the Iranian armed forces, was visible. Iran has denied accusations of arming and supporting the Houthis, but this has not reassured Washington, which has extremely strained relations with Tehran.

By conducting laser fire at a surface target in the Gulf of Aden, Washington demonstrated who is the boss in the region and what awaits those who will test American patience in the strategically important transport corridor between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The demonstration of force was also intended for the Somali pirates, who had acquired the bad habit of going after the Zhupans in the Gulf of Aden. They were hinted that their inflatable boats were also waiting for the incinerating laser fire.