Feeds

US Navy orders laser machine guns

But keeps option to fire regular, enormous bullets

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?