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    HomeMilitaryNavy Secretary Prioritizes Laser Defense Against Drones Amid Rising Threats

    Navy Secretary Prioritizes Laser Defense Against Drones Amid Rising Threats

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    The U.S. Navy is escalating its investment in laser technology to counter the increasing threat of drones and missiles, a move that reflects a broader strategy shift in defense and underscores the urgency of adapting to new forms of warfare.

    120730-N-PO203-076” by Office of Naval Research is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro has vowed to ramp up funding for directed energy solutions, including lasers, acknowledging the urgency to reduce the cost of intercepting enemy projectiles.

    120730-N-PO203-402” by Office of Naval Research is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    This commitment comes after recent events in the Red Sea, where Houthi kamikaze drone and missile attacks have targeted military and commercial vessels, underscoring the vulnerabilities in current defense systems.

    A black military drone with laser gun firing to target on a ground. New technologies for soldiers and terrorists. Four industrial revolution in war.
    Photo by Kletr on Adobe Stock

    According to U.S. Central Command, a complex attack involving various projectiles was successfully thwarted by U.S. and U.K. forces, marking the 26th such incident since November.

    High tech deployment equipment 10-2010” by US Army Africa is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The financial implications are stark—shooting down relatively inexpensive drones with costly missiles is not sustainable, as highlighted by General Erik Kurilla, leader of U.S. Central Command, who stated, “I would love to have the Navy produce more directed energy that can shoot down a drone so I don’t have to use an expensive missile to shoot it down.”

    The laser beam hits the drone. The drone explodes. Concept of the latest weapon for fighting drones. Ukraine and Russia at war
    Photo by Johnovich on Adobe Stock

    Del Toro, speaking at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium, expressed his conviction that the future of naval defense heavily relies on laser and microwave technology.

    The laser beam hits the drone. The drone explodes. Concept of the latest weapon for fighting drones. Ukraine and Russia at war
    Photo by Johnovich on Adobe Stock

    He cited ongoing advancements, such as the HELIOS system, which has been delivered to the USS Preble destroyer by Lockheed Martin, as promising steps toward actualizing this future.

    Laser weapons are rapidly being developed that are accurate and silent. Difficult to protect
    Photo by Phitthayathon on Adobe Stock

    The HELIOS platform is an example of how directed energy weapons, once deemed futuristic, are becoming a practical reality for ship defense.

    drone squad
    Photo by Balerinastock on Adobe Stock

    In the face of these advancements, the Defense Department has been annually allocating around $1 billion to directed energy research and development.

    The laser beam hits the drone. The drone explodes. Concept of the latest weapon for fighting drones. Ukraine and Russia at war
    Photo by Johnovich on Adobe Stock

    While Del Toro has not specified the amount of increase in funding, he has made it clear that the Navy’s commitment is steadfast, and that there will be an acceleration of directed energy deployment, particularly to combat swarm attacks.

    Swarm of military drones with red targeting lasers flying above cityscape.
    Photo by cherezoff on Adobe Stock

    Del Toro said, “We need to do that moving forward. There’s no question in my mind to get to a place perhaps five to ten years from now where we could actually start aggressively employing those capabilities on our ships early.”

    defense soldier technology In the second photograph
    Photo by vectorwin on Adobe Stock

    This push for more effective defense technology also comes amidst the backdrop of a broader military aid package for Ukraine, as the Pentagon has announced additional support on the war’s first anniversary.

    131105-N-PO203-365” by Office of Naval Research is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The package includes more ammunition for various systems and counter-drone and electronic warfare detection equipment, illustrating the continued relevance and importance of anti-drone technologies not only for the U.S. Navy but also for allies engaged in modern conflicts.

    F-35 Lightning Drops a Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    As the Navy secretary moves to redirect resources to meet these challenges, the commitment to high-powered lasers signals a significant shift in how future conflicts could be managed, emphasizing technology over traditional munitions.

    Dassault Rafale” by bikashdas is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    This strategy aims to protect naval assets and personnel more effectively and economically in the long term, while maintaining the technological edge that is critical in modern naval warfare. The Navy’s approach is a clear signal to potential adversaries that the U.S. is actively preparing to counter and neutralize emerging threats with cutting-edge defenses, showcasing the intersection of military innovation and strategy in an increasingly complex security environment.

    Relevant articles:
    Navy secretary vows more money for anti-drone lasers, DNyuz
    Navy Secretary Del Toro wants to accelerate funding for directed energy weapons, DefenseScoop
    Breaking Reports and Analysis for Government Employees, GovExec.com
    US vows to send more drones, aid to Ukraine on war’s anniversary, Defense News

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