A directed energy weapon prototype is now in the hands of the US Marines.
The Compact Laser Weapons System—or CLaWS—is the first ground-based laser approved by the US Department of Defense for use by troops on the ground.
“This was all in response to a need for counter unmanned aerial systems to take down drones,” said Don Kelley, programme manager for Ground Based Air Defense.
“We developed a CLaWS prototype for Marines to use and evaluate.”
In recent years, the US Defense Department has assessed directed energy weapons—more commonly known as lasers—as an affordable alternative to traditional firepower to keep enemy drones from tracking and targeting troops on the ground.
CLaWS is not intended to be a standalone system for the US Marines to use to counter enemy drones. Rather, if the prototype continues to do well in the current research and development phase, it will serve as a component to an overall system used to counter drones, according to a release.
“We’re providing CLaWS to Marines as a rapid prototype for evaluation,” Kelley said. “Depending on the results, CLaWS could become part of a larger capability set.”
As US Marines evaluate the CLaWS systems over the next few months, the programme office already has their next target in mind: upgrading it.
Depending on the results, the programme office says it could incorporate the CLaWS into other fixed-site and mobile counter UAS capabilities.