- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The U.S. Army is set to issue advanced laser weapons to troops as early as 2023, a senior military official told a congressional committee Monday.

Mary J. Miller, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, “I believe we’re very close,” to developing offensive and defensive directed-energy weapons.

She stressed that the programs would be extensively tested so the Army understands the weapons’ full capabilities, “before we offer it to a soldier,” the Daily Mail reported.

“We have to make sure the lasers work and do the full set of scopes against the threats we project,” Ms. Miler said. “And those threats include the counter-rockets, counter-artillery and counter-mortar as well as [unmanned Aerial Vehicle] and cruise missile threats.”

She said the Army is in the process of taking lasers out into operational environments for testing.

In the meantime, Ms. Miller told lawmakers, “There will be steps along the way where we spin off lesser capable laser systems that can do good things on smaller platforms,” the Daily Mail reported.

The Air Force has already been flying prototype laser weapons.

David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, said the Air Force is working with Special Operations command to develop a laser weapon that will be mounted to the AFSOC AC-130 gunship.

“The Air Force is flying every day with lasers under its transport aircraft, using them as an infrared countermeasure system,” Mr. Walker said. “So we too spun off lesser-capable laser systems, and as we get larger power outputs and better thermal management out of smaller package lasers, we will build those powers into defensive to offensive capability as well.”

The U.S. Navy has also tested out laser weapons on its ships, launching a laser at sea aboard the USS Ponce. That weapon is capable of a range of attacks against small boats, drones and light aircraft. The laser can blind sensors or operators or heating elements on enemy targets, making them fall apart.




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