Laser, machine gun team up for ship defense

MSNBC.com – July 26, 2011

Like peanut butter and chocolate, the U.S. Navy thinks machine guns and lasers are two great tastes that taste great together. They hope the combination of old school lead with new school “pew” will better protect their ships from attack by smaller boats.

BAE Systems, a British defense firm, already makes the giant machine guns that protect warships from approaching watercraft. But yesterday, Boeing announced that they will team up with BAE Systems to develop a solid-state laser that would work in tandem with the already potent weapon.

“Boeing is committed to developing this directed energy system that will significantly enhance ship defense,” said Michael Rinn, Boeing DES vice president. “Combining BAE’s engineering expertise with the proven directed-energy proficiency of Boeing’s DES division creates a team uniquely qualified to integrate directed-energy technology into the Navy’s shipboard armaments.”

BAE won the contract to develop the laser, which the Navy envisions as a countermeasure against small drones, tiny boats and anything else that gets too close a Navy surface vessel. Now, Boeing has joined the team to develop the prototype weapon.

It’s anybody’s guess what kind of threat a machine guns or lasers can’t defeat on their own (Mothra? Decepticons? Kraken?). But now that 19th century ballistic technology has teamed up with 21st Century ray gun tech, whatever that enemy may be will think twice about messing with a U.S. Navy warship.

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