The Navy’s New 100 KiloWatt Laser Weapons

The Office of Naval Research has awarded Raytheon a year-long contract to develop the preliminary design of a 100 kilowatt experimental Free Electron Laser (FEL) for naval warships. A FEL uses superconducting electron accelerators to produce high-power laser beams that could target cruise missiles, airplanes or boats. FEL operators can adjust the laser’s wavelength by adjusting the energy of the electrons in the accelerator, something conventional lasers can’t do. This allows them to be used on ships without suffering disturbances from the water vapor-rich environment. Raytheon has 12 months to create a preliminary design, the first step in the $150 million, three-phase ONR program. –Joe Pappalardo

Navy Free Electron Laser