The US Navy combines lasers and machine guns to make a superweapon

first_imgThe US Navy has already been experimenting with shipborne lasers to be used as part of a missile defense or small-craft attack system, but you can’t expect the Navy, makers of the railgun, to stop there. Now they’ve decided the thing missing from their shipborne laser is a machine gun.The prototype laser machine gun cannon is designed to protect future ships from enemy drones and small craft approaching at high speeds. The project is the result of a partnership between Boeing and BAE Systems, and Monday the two companies announced they were working on a demo model that can actually be installed on a ship and test fired.If you’re thinking there’s some kind of fancy secret technology under the hood here, you’ll be surprised to learn that the new weapon is essentially a BAE Mk-38 25-mm machine gun that’s already often used on ships at sea combined with Boeing’s solid-state laser technology. The weapon is very literally a machine gun with a super-powerful laser bolted onto it and an advanced control and targeting system behind it.The new weapon will, if it works, be able to fire 180 rounds per minute at 2000 yards accurately. Toggle the gun from machine gun rounds to laser pulses and ship commanders will be able to configure different “levels of laser energy,” according to BAE representatives. The two modes can also be combined to fire laser pulses and machine gun rounds at the same time, or the laser can be used to lock on to targets for the machine gun to fire on.The problem with the weapon – or with any laser weapon on-board a ship – is power. Many defense experts are pointing out that generators on most ships may not be capable of putting out the power required for sustained use of laser weapons. Still, BAE and Boeing are working on prototypes, one of which will be ready to test by the end of the month.Read more at Wiredlast_img