Solid State Laser Technology Maturation Program
The Solid State Laser (SSL) Technology Maturation program will develop and mature high-energy laser technologies into a prototypical weapon system for use and installation on the Navy’s surface combatants.
SSLs utilize specific solid chemicals that when combined with a light source (often light-emitting diodes), amplify and focus light at long range. For a laser weapon system, the resulting light and heat transmitted to a target causes the failure of structures. SSLs are typically categorized into one of two classes – either slab-type or fiber-type. Slab lasers use small centimeter-sized prismatic or rectangular geometries, whereas fiber lasers are thin rods about the diameter of a human hair and many meters long. In either type, an SSL weapon utilizes ship’s electricity to power the laser, and then the resulting light is directed by mirrors through an external, aimable beam director, where a complex optic system focuses the laser light onto targets.
Lasers have the capability for speed-of-light engagements, with very precise, real-time targeting and battle damage assessments. Lasers can provide measured weapon effects, matched with extremely deep magazine capacities to defend against multiple, simultaneous arriving threats potentially posed against Naval surface forces: armed, unarmed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or lethal unmanned aerial vehicles; light aircraft; small boats; asymmetric surface targets; or small diameter rockets and missiles. The prototypes will also examine the utility for precision discrimination of targets, and enhancement in aiming of existing guns and missiles.
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