U.S. Navy to deploy laser weapons in 2014

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The U.S. Navy said Monday it is preparing to roll out a sea-based laser weapon capable of disabling small enemy vessels and shooting down surveillance drones.

The laser system will be deployed in 2014, two years ahead of schedule.

Chief of Naval Research Admiral Matthew Klunder said the cost of one blast of “directed energy” could be less than $1.

“Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to fire a missile, and you can begin to see the merits of this capability,” he said in a US Navy statement.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Sea Systems Command successfully tested high-energy lasers against a moving target ship and a remotely piloted drone.

“The solid-state laser is a big step forward to revolutionizing modern warfare with directed energy, just as gunpowder did in the era of knives and swords.”

This comes amid heightened tension between the United States and North Korea with Pyongyang threatening to fire nuclear missiles.

A top U.S. military commander said Tuesday he favored shooting down a North Korean missile only if it threatened the United States or Washington’s allies in the region.

When asked by lawmakers if he supported knocking out any missile fired by North Korea, Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of U.S. Pacific Command, said: “I would not recommend that.”

But the four-star admiral told the Senate Armed Services Committee he would “certainly recommend” intercepting an incoming North Korean missile “if it was in defense of our allies” or the United States.

Amid widespread speculation North Korea could be preparing a missile launch, Locklear also said he was confident the U.S. military would be able to detect quickly where any missile was headed.

“It doesn’t take long for us to determine where it’s going and where it’s going to land,” said Locklear, who oversees American forces in the Asia-Pacific region.
The laser which will be launched in 2014 runs on electricity, so the weapon “can be fired as long as there is power,” and is a lot safer than carrying explosives aboard ships.

The U.S. military has powerful radar in Japan at the moment to help track a possible missile launch as well as naval ships in the area equipped with anti-missile weaponry. Japan and South Korea also have their own missile defense systems.

Source: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2013/04/09/-U-S-Navy-to-deploy-laser-weapons-in-2014.html


Boeing P-8 testing complete, set for 2013 deployment


The Boeing P-8 Poseidon has successfully completed operational testing and is set to deploy for the first time later this year with the US Navy, programme and company officials say. The aircraft is also set to enter full-rate production in 2013.

“We’re rapidly coming to the conclusion of almost all of our SDD [system development and demonstration] tasks,” says Rick Heerdt, Boeing vice-president for the P-8A programme, during a briefing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition. “We’re focused and driving towards a full-rate production decision and initial operational capability later this year.”

The first operational squadron will deploy in December 2013, says Capt Aaron Rondeau, the navy’s P-8A Poseidon integrated product team lead.

The only remaining developmental task left to complete is full fatigue life testing on the Boeing 737-dervived airframe, Heerdt says.

Production is ramping up in 2013 to 10 aircraft, from seven in 2012, with three of this year’s examples being for India, Heerdt says. India’s first P-8 will arrive in the country in the second quarter of 2013, with two more to arrive during the third quarter under an eight-aircraft order with the nation’s navy.

Australia is also expected to order a minimum of eight P-8s, Rondeau says. Canberra is expected to have the aircraft delivered and in service around 2016 or 2017, he adds. Australia is already participating in the development of the P-8’s Increment 2 and Increment 3 upgrades.

Increment 2 is broken up into two parts, the first of which will become operational in 2014, Rondeau says. This includes an early iteration of the Multi-static Active Coherent (MAC) sonar system, which consists of dozens of active sonar buoys that send out sonar pings from various directions while passive sonar buoys listen for the returns. Information is networked together to help the P-8 find and kill submarines.

A second, more advanced package will become operational in 2016. It will include an improved MAC, high altitude anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sensors and a high altitude ASW weapons capability, which Rondeau says is a Mk 54 torpedo with a wing-kit.

Increment 3, which is set to become operational in 2020, will add greater network centric warfare capabilities to the P-8, Rondeau says. It will also greatly improve the aircraft’s computer architecture and add new networked anti-ship weapons.

‘RIMPAC’ exercises bring welcome new experience for Chinese Navy

by Robert M. Farley
[Global Times]

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) has accepted a US invitation to attend the RIMPAC (Pacific Rim) 2014 exercises recently.

The extent of Chinese participation is not yet fully known, but will most likely involve exercises associated with disaster relief and maintenance of the maritime commons.

This will mark the PLA Navy’s first participation in RIMPAC.

The US decision to invite China, and the Chinese decision to accept, are both unequivocally good news. The PLA Navy and the US Navy are the two largest navies on the Pacific Rim, with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force a close third.

At RIMPAC 2012, 11 navies sent ships, including a contingent from the Russian Pacific Fleet. Several other navies sent observation and special operations teams.

The RIMPAC 2014 exercises come at a critical time for maritime relations in East Asia. Hostile rhetoric between North Korea and the US has reached a high point over the last several weeks. At the same time, tensions between China, Japan, and several Southeast Asian nations over the control of offshore islands have continued to grow.

Chinese participation at RIMPAC should facilitate better communication between the PLA Navy, the US Navy, and regional navies.

Given recent tensions, laying out avenues for improved communication and for trust building can only help avoid unnecessary conflict.

The concept behind RIMPAC rests on two foundations. First, maritime challenges extend beyond any one nation’s littoral.

Second, effective multilateral operations require the development of relationships and communications procedures before a crisis happens.

Exercises and RIMPAC help develop relationships and practices that make it easier for national navies to cooperate in crisis situations, and to coordinate standard maritime maintenance responsibilities.

RIMPAC has steadily expanded beyond close US allies. While RIMPAC does involve some high intensity military exercises, many of which the PLA Navy will not participate in, the rules will apparently limit China’s RIMPAC participation to missions such as disaster relief and anti-piracy. This will build on anti-piracy exercises that the PLA Navy and the US Navy have conducted in the Gulf of Aden.

Tensions notwithstanding, the biggest maritime challenges of the past decade have involved disaster relief.

The PLA Navy can surely learn from hard-won US experience in maritime disaster relief operations, as the US Navy helped spearhead relief activities in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

The aviation and amphibious capabilities of the PLA Navy have increased dramatically since 2004, but the experience remains critically short. Participation at RIMPAC will give the PLA Navy access to the expertise of foreign navies in humanitarian assistance.

If the past is any guide, in the next decade, the Pacific Rim will certainly suffer from devastating maritime disasters.

Climate change, combined with an increasing proportion of the region’s population relocating to the littoral, means that naval forces will be pressed to engage in humanitarian operations whether prepared or not.

To the extent that China wishes to play a constructive role in these operations, it will have to develop effective capabilities as quickly as possible.

RIMPAC is a good first step toward integrating the PLA Navy into regional disaster preparedness, and toward building the communications linkages, trust, and relationships necessary to conduct effective multilateral relief operations.

Participation in RIMPAC will not resolve political differences between the US, China, and the regional navies of East Asia. However, it can contribute to communication, trust building, and the development of critical maritime skills and practices.

For the millions living in the Pacific Rim littoral, this could someday mean the difference between life and death.