Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for Congress [June 12, 2015] [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. The Navy and DOD have conducted development work on three principal types of lasers for potential use on Navy surface ships--fiber solid state lasers (SSLs), slab SSLs, and free electron lasers (FELs). One fiber SSL prototype demonstrator developed by the Navy is the Laser Weapon System (LaWS). The Navy in August 2014 installed a LaWS system on the USS Ponce, a ship operating in the Persian Gulf as an interim Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB[I]), to conduct continued evaluation of shipboard lasers in an operational setting. The Navy reportedly anticipates moving to a shipboard laser program of record in 'the FY2018 time frame' and achieving an initial operational capability (IOC) with a shipboard laser in FY2020 or FY2021. Although the Navy is developing laser technologies and prototypes of potential shipboard lasers, and has a generalized vision for shipboard lasers, the Navy currently does not yet have a program of record for procuring a production version of a shipboard laser."
CRS Report for Congress, R41526
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html