Report to Congress on Navy shipboard lasers

The following is taken from the Congressional Research Service report of May 9, 2022, Navy Shipboard Lasers: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

This report provides background information and issues for Congress on shipboard solid-state lasers (SSLs) that the Navy is developing for surface ship self-defense. The Navy’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 calls for continued research and development funding for these efforts.

The Navy installed its first SSL prototype capable of countering surface craft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on a Navy ship in 2014. Since then, the Navy has developed and installed additional SSL prototypes with improved capability to counter surface craft and UAVs. Higher-powered SSLs developed by the Navy must have the capability to counter anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). Current Navy efforts to develop SSLs include:

  • the effort to mature semiconductor laser technology (SSL-TM);
  • the optical glare, marine (ODIN) interdictor;
  • the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as the High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical Glare and Surveillance (HELIOS); and
  • the HELCAP program (High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM).

The first three SSL efforts listed above are included in what the Navy calls the Navy Laser Family of Systems (NFLoS).

The question for Congress is whether to modify, reject, or approve the Navy’s acquisition strategies and funding requests for shipboard laser development programs. Congressional decisions on this issue could affect the Navy’s capabilities and funding requirements, as well as the defense technology and industrial base.

Download the document here.