Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for Congress [August 6, 2013]   [open pdf - 1MB]

"Department of Defense (DOD) development work on high-energy military lasers, which has been underway for decades, has reached the point where lasers capable of countering certain surface and air targets at ranges of about a mile could be made ready for installation on Navy surface ships over the next few years. More powerful shipboard lasers, which could become ready for installation in subsequent years, could provide Navy surface ships with an ability to counter a wider range of surface and air targets at ranges of up to about 10 miles. These more powerful lasers might, among other things, provide Navy surface ships with a terminal-defense capability against certain ballistic missiles, including China's new anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). [...] In addition to decisions on whether or not to fund continued development of potential shipboard lasers, options for Congress regarding potential shipboard lasers include, among other things, encouraging or directing the Navy or some other DOD organization to perform an analysis of alternatives (AOA) comparing the cost-effectiveness of lasers and traditional kinetic weapons (such as missiles and guns) for countering surface, air, and missile targets, and encouraging or directing the Navy to adopt a program of record for procuring a production version of a shipboard laser, and/or a roadmap that calls for installing lasers on specific surface ships by specific dates."

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CRS Report for Congress, R41526
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