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USN secretary underscores combat system and directed energy weapons developments

USS Portland has been outfitted with a Laser Weapon System Demonstrator. (US Navy)

US Navy (USN) Secretary Carlos Del Toro highlighted milestones and development of surface ship combat systems equipment and directed energy weapons on 7 March during the 2024 McAleese Defense Programs Conference.

“We are pushing the bounds of tactics and capability with the future [landing transport dock] USS Richard M McCoolJr (LPD 29),” Del Toro said. “Earlier this year, she was fitted with the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) antenna, marking the first US Navy installation and activation of the SPY-6(V)2, rotating variant S-band radar.”

Del Toro added, “The EASR will integrate into the ship self-defence system and revolutionise our amphibious fleet, enabling them to detect, track, and engage the enemy.”

He also said, “Our amphibious ships play a crucial role in testing and validating our newest directed energy weapons technology, including the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD). USS Portland (LPD 27) was fitted with LWSD and successfully engaged a marine target in the Gulf of Aden.”

He noted another milestone – the development of the 60+ kW-class high-energy laser with integrated optical-dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS), the first tactical laser weapon system slated to be integrated into existing USN ships.

“While I was in San Diego last month, I visited [guided missile destroyer] USS Preble (DDG 88), fitted with the HELIOS laser weapon system,” Del Toro said, adding, “Directed energy weapons, including high-energy lasers, are the future of warfare – offering a lower cost-per-shot against air and missile defence engagements.”

Noting recent anti-missile operations in the Red Sea, Del Toro said, “While our hard-kill successes are making the news every day, we are also strengthening our ‘non-kinetic' shield.”

He added, “USS Pinckney

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