Report on Navy Laser, Railgun and Gun-Launched Guided Projectiles

This is a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service as background for Congress. An interesting read.

The beginning of the article is a summary, the full report is below.

Three new ship-based weapons being developed by the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP)—could substantially improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).

The Navy has been developing SSLs for several years, and in 2014 installed on a Navy ship a prototype SSL called the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) that was capable of countering surface craft and UAVs. The Navy is now developing SSLs with improved capability for countering surface craft and UAVs, and eventually a capability for countering ASCMs. Navy efforts to develop these more capable lasers include

  • the Solid State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort;
  • the Ruggedized High Energy Laser (RHEL);
  • the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN);
  • the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as the high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS); and
  • the High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP).