Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress [August 1, 2018] [open pdf - 2MB]
"The Navy is developing three new ship-based weapons that could improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and surface craft: the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), previously known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP). The Navy refers to the initial (i.e., Increment 1) version of SNLWS as HELIOS, an acronym meaning high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance. EMRG could additionally provide the Navy with a new naval surface fire support (NSFS) weapon for attacking land targets in support of Marines or other friendly ground forces ashore. The Department of Defense is exploring the potential for using GLGP across multiple U.S. military services. Any one of these three new weapons, if successfully developed and deployed, might be regarded as a 'game changer' for defending Navy surface ships against enemy missiles and UAVs. If two or three of them are successfully developed and deployed, the result might be considered not just a game changer, but a revolution. Rarely has the Navy had so many potential new types of surface-ship air-defense weapons simultaneously available for development and potential deployment. Although the Navy in recent years has made considerable progress in developing technologies for these new weapons, a number of significant development challenges remain. Overcoming these challenges will require additional development work, and ultimate success in overcoming them is not guaranteed."
CRS Report for Congress, R44175