News and Analysis

Dawn Of A New Era: U.S. Navy Unveils Laser Weapon System, Destroys Target In Gulf Of Aden
211213-M-PO838-1046 GULF OF ADEN (Dec. 13, 2021) Amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD 27) transits the Gulf of Aden, Dec. 13, with a Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator Mark 2 MOD 0 on board. The Office of Naval Research selected Portland to host the laser weapon technology in 2018.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick Katz

The United States Navy used a highly sophisticated laser weapon system featured on an amphibious transport dock ship to destroy a target at sea this week in the Gulf of Aden.

The USS Portland (LPD 27) conducted the weapons demonstration on Tuesday using the the Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD) Mark 2 MOD 0, a 150-kilowatt weapon that is capable of shooting down UAVs, small boats, rockets, artillery, and mortars.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement:

The Office of Naval Research selected Portland to host the laser weapon technology in 2018. The LWSD is considered a next-generation follow-on to the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) that afloat forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) tested for three years while operating in the Middle East.

Portland is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group that includes amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and embarked Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The units departed San Diego in August and began operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet region in September.

The region’s geography, climate, and strategic importance offer a unique environment for technology innovation. U.S. 5th Fleet’s area of operations includes the world’s largest standing maritime partnership, Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.

“The Gulf of Aden sits along the southern coast of war-torn Yemen, which has been at war since Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized its capital, Sanaa, in 2014,” the Associated Press reported. “A Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in March 2015 but the stalemate conflict has dragged on for years, becoming the world’s worst humanitarian disaster and killing an estimated 110,000 people.”

The Houthis, an Islamic terrorist organization that Democrat President Joe Biden delisted as an official Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), have deployed boat drones in the area that they use to destroy ships. The report said that Iran is suspected of helping building the boats.

“Emirati officials in 2018 showed off footage they described as coming from a drone boat computer that had Iranians building components for the boat’s guidance system, with a hat visible in the background of one picture bearing the symbol of Iran’s hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard,” the report added. “Iran has denied arming the Houthis, though United Nations experts, independent analysts and Western nations point to evidence showing Tehran’s link to the weapons.”

The news comes as the Biden administration desperately tries to get Iran to reenter the failed Iran nuclear deal and is not having much success.

“We continue in this hour, on this day, to pursue diplomacy because it remains at this moment the best option, but we are actively engaging with allies and partners on alternatives,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday.

European officials have warned that “time is running out” and “that Iran is still not engaged in real negotiations.”

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