If the US Navy (USN) receives an additional USD80 million above its budget request for the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) initiative, the service would be able to accelerate development plans, according to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month, Adm Richardson fielded questions about HELIOS and why the service included it on its unfunded priorities list - a wish list, of sorts, where each service details programmes they would like to see funded at higher levels.
Adm Richardson explained that if the service receives an additional USD80 million, it could accelerate HELIOS "even further".
"If we got a little bit more money, we could move even more aggressively still," the four-star admiral told lawmakers.
The service is requesting USD101 million in fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) for its Navy Laser Family of Systems (NLFoS) - an effort to field "near-term", ship-based high-energy laser weapons, according to budget documents. If lawmakers approve the funds, the navy said it will use the money for the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS), in which HELIOS is included, as well as the Solid State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort.
"[The] SNLWS addresses anti-surface warfare and counter-intelligence, surveillance and gaps with the ability to dazzle and destroy UASs [unmanned aerial systems] and defeat fast inshore attack craft," the navy wrote. "SNLWS includes the development of an advanced prototype laser weapon system in the 60 kW or higher class. SSL-TM will develop an advanced 150kW high-energy laser weapon demonstrator that will support future laser development with installation on a LPD 17 [San Antonio] class for at sea testing in FY 2020."
While budget documents detail plans to move out with NLFoS development, the USD101 million request is a reduction over previous years' spending levels.
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