The MoD is due to select a contractor to build a technology demonstrator to validate the system.

It is reported that a selection could come as early as June the 3rd, according to Andy Rhodes at Raytheon UK, one of the companies competing for the deal.

‎It is understood that the laser would be ‘co-mounted’ with the Phalanx’s cannon, rather than replacing it altogether.

Raytheon showed a possible configuration with a laser and the 20mm Phalanx fitted alongside a radar and optronics. This image is shown above.

The Royal Navy already widely uses the Phalanx across its fleet.

According to multiple reports, Rhodes said he expected the Royal Navy would add to its stock of Phalanx by purchasing ‎additional weapons at some point.

Close-in weapon systems remain a shipboard necessity for detecting and engaging missiles and aircraft at short range.

This news will see Britain join the laser arms race after America has already deployed a laser to the Gulf on one of its own warships.

Former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, made an announcement foreshadowing this last year. He claimed that Britain will test a prototype laser cannon on its warships by the end of the decade.

The “directed energy weapon” will be able to fire high energy beams to damage and burn up targets at the cost of only pence per shot.

America deployed a working laser weapon system on board USS Ponce in the Gulf last year. The laser has been successfully tested shooting down drone aircraft and burning up small attacking boats, or at lower power to “dazzle” sensors and instruments. The AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System reportedly worked perfectly, indeed the commander of the Ponce is authorised to use the system as a defensive weapon.

Laser weapons are an increasing focus for defence firms and expected to become more common on the battlefield in the next decade.

17 COMMENTS

  1. If it is as good as it claims wouldn’t a weapon system that cost 1p to fire and take out planes and its stand off weapons (that are £100000 worth) with ease won’t this then mean the carrier Is effectively obsolete as a capital ship, relegated to support only? Could this be the return of battleships and new naval doctrine? Cost vs effectiveness drives what a navy looks like. 🤔

    • This is a Close In Weapons System (CIWS), a last ditch throw to counter missiles and attacking A/C.

      Attacks can be overcome by the right use of doctrine, weapons and tactics – same as defensive systems.
      It usually comes down to who trains and thinks the best.
      Your argument has echoes of the FAC vs carrier debate that was roundly refuted by reality.

    • that what I was wondering the rate of fire and if it accurately destroyed weapon systems in close defence it will make missiles cost effectively useless, unless you swarm a single target. Think about it if you fit a ship that could power more than 6 with a rate of fire less than 1 per minute with other defence systems wouldn’t you make missiles useless as offensive weapons.

  2. Presumably the main question is how useful this would be for shooting down/disabling missiles – I think this would be my chief concern!!

  3. The US and UK have been collaborating on directed energy and rail gun weapons for DECADES. There are papers on the internet examining the issues from the early 80s. This is a technology whose time has come, I fully expect most advanced nations will be examining these techs with enthusiasm.
    As noted above, it could perhaps lead to a change in doctrine. The only weapons that will be able to penetrate such defenced will be hypersonic missiles, perhaps with multiple warheads, rail gun shots and missiles with subsurface capabilities.

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