Wednesday, February 19, 2014

If You Can Dodge a Wrench, You Can Dodge a Ball

USS Ponce will host a laser weapon. Just what is its range, anyway?

This is cool:

The Navy's laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by a single sailor, he said.
The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as "asymmetrical threats." Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.

The ship with the weapon will be in the Gulf this summer, but no timeframe is specified.

Sure, Ponce is designed to be a platform to fight small boats in the Gulf. I've noted it before.

Perhaps I don't appreciate the issue, but a laser to take out speed boats--even swarms of them--seems like technological overkill.

But impressive, if such a system can quickly destroy or disable moving boats one after another.

If it is that powerful, what else could it destroy?

With the ship sitting in the Persian Gulf, I'd love to know the laser's effective range.

Because my first instinct is to think of this ship as part of the Obama Option in case Iran lives up to my expectations and develops nuclear missiles.

Say, our Europe-based missile defenses are going on line fairly soon, too, aren't they? Yes indeed, they are.

UPDATE: Related?

Last week Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, the company behind the Iron Dome, unveiled its new Iron Beam system, a less expensive and more versatile laser-based addition to Israel's defensive arsenal. The Iron Beam, which could be deployed as early as 2015, will reportedly vaporize short-range rockets, mortars, and even drones using high-kilowatt lasers.

Of course, that's for short-range work. I'd still love to know what the Ponce laser's range is.

Tip to Instapundit.

UPDATE: The Wikipedia entry says the range is about a mile and is tied into the system used by our old Phalanx and newer missiles designed for last-ditch anti-missile work. Which would indicate that it really couldn't work against missiles launched from inside Iran.

A one-mile range seems rather useless for anything other than suicide boats, since small boats could carry anti-tank missiles with much more range than that.