Feeds

US Navy orders laser machine guns

But keeps option to fire regular, enormous bullets

Build a business case: developing custom apps

US Navy warships will soon be equipped with fearful combination weapons mounts boasting both heavy machine-guns and high powered laser rayguns, it has been announced.

Manufacturer Boeing says it has inked a teaming agreement with the US operations of arms globo-mammoth BAE Systems to build the Mk 38 Mod 2 Tactical Laser System to naval requirements. We learn that the new raygun installation will be based on the existing Mk 38 Machine Gun System, a robotic gun turret whose primary punch is provided by the fearsome M242 Bushmaster Chain Gun, effectively a light auto-cannon.

The new enhanced laser version will also boast a high-energy laser intended for such tasks as raying small flying robots and/or boats:

The addition of the laser weapon module brings high-precision accuracy against surface and air targets such as small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles. The system also provides the ability to deliver different levels of laser energy, depending on the target and mission objectives.

We aren't told the power level offered by the laser, which suggests that it isn't very high: raygun projects always like to boast of any decent power level. The fact that the laser is small enough to be clipped onto an existing weapon also suggests light weight and limited puissance, as does the suggestion that it is an alternative to the Bushmaster rather than a replacement for it.

Though probably quite feeble, the laser might not be without its uses. US Navy boffins recently used an unimpressive 15-kilowatt unit to set a small boat on fire in recent seagoing tests, arguing that such kit has the power to see off minor targets at least. When one thinks of a situation with a boat attack close inshore or in crowded waters – where it could be difficult to cut loose with the Bushmaster for fear of hitting things beyond the target – the laser could be handy. It might also serve as a warning.

Then, one notes that the Bushmaster is capable of loosing off its entire magazine of 25mm shells in less than a minute, while the laser can potentially keep beaming as long as there is power on the mount.

Even so, the day of the raygun dreadnought is plainly not here yet, the more so as the US Navy's own Free Electron Laser project – aimed at producing megawatt-range war rayguns – was recently halted by Washington politicians. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.