Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress




Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched
Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for
Congress

Updated July 28, 2020
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
R44175




Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile

Summary
Three new ship-based weapons being developed by the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the
electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as
the hypervelocity projectile (HVP)—could substantially improve the ability of Navy surface ships
to defend themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-
ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).
The Navy has been developing SSLs for several years, and in 2014 installed on a Navy ship its
first prototype SSL capable of countering surface craft and UAVs. The Navy since then has been
developing and installing additional SSL prototypes with improved capability for countering
surface craft and UAVs. Higher-power SSLs being developed by the Navy are to have a
capability for countering ASCMs. Current Navy efforts to develop SSLs include
 the Solid State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort;
 the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN);
 the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as
the high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS);
and
 the High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP).
The first three efforts above are included in what the Navy calls the Navy Laser Family of
Systems (NFLoS) effort. NFLOS and HELCAP, along with technologies developed by other parts
of DOD, are to support the development of future, more capable shipboard lasers.
The Navy has been developing EMRG for several years. It was originally conceived as a naval
surface fire support (NSFS) weapon for supporting Marines and other friendly forces ashore.
Subsequently, it was determined that EMRG could also be used for air and missile defense, which
strengthened Navy interest in EMRG development. The Navy is continuing development work on
EMRG, but it is unclear when production-model EMRGs will be installed on Navy ships. The
Navy’s FY2021 budget submission requests $9.5 million in FY2021 for continued development
of EMRG, but does not appear to program any additional development funding for EMRG in
FY2022-FY2025.
As the Navy was developing EMRG, it realized that the guided projectile being developed for
EMRG could also be fired from powder guns, including 5-inch guns on Navy cruisers and
destroyers and 155 mm artillery guns operated by the Army and Marine Corps. The concept of
firing the projectile from powder guns is referred to as GLGP and HVP. One potential advantage
of HVP/GLGP is that, once developed, it can be rapidly deployed on Navy cruisers and
destroyers and in Army and Marine Corps artillery units, because the powder guns in question
already exist.
In addition to the question of whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2021 funding
requests for SSLs, EMRG, and HVP/GLGP, issues for Congress include the following:
 whether the Navy is moving too quickly, too slowly, or at about the right speed in
its efforts to develop these weapons;
 the Navy’s plans for transitioning these weapons from development to
procurement and fielding of production models aboard Navy ships; and
 whether Navy the Navy’s shipbuilding plans include ships with appropriate
amounts of space, weight, electrical power, and cooling capacity to accommodate
these weapons.
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Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Issue for Congress ..................................................................................................................... 1
Scope of Report ......................................................................................................................... 1

Background ..................................................................................................................................... 2
Strategic and Budgetary Context............................................................................................... 2
Concern About Survivability of Navy Surface Ships ......................................................... 2
Depth of Magazine and Cost Exchange Ratio .................................................................... 2

Solid State Lasers (SSLs) .......................................................................................................... 3
Overview ............................................................................................................................. 3
Earlier Developments.......................................................................................................... 4
Current Development Roadmap ......................................................................................... 5
SSL-TM .............................................................................................................................. 8
ODIN ................................................................................................................................ 12
SNLWS Increment 1 (HELIOS) ....................................................................................... 15
HELCAP ........................................................................................................................... 19
Remaining Development Challenges ................................................................................ 20
Electromagnetic Railgun (EMRG) and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile (GLGP) ............... 21
EMRG ............................................................................................................................... 21
GLGP ................................................................................................................................ 25
Remaining Development Challenges ................................................................................ 34
Transitioning from Development to Procurement ................................................................... 35
Issues for Congress ........................................................................................................................ 36
Legislative Activity for FY2021 .................................................................................................... 37
Summary of Congressional Action on FY2021 Funding ........................................................ 37
FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395/S. 4049) ........................................ 38
House ................................................................................................................................ 38
Senate ................................................................................................................................ 38

FY2021 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R. 7617) ...................................................................... 39
House ................................................................................................................................ 39

Figures
Figure 1. Laser Weapon System (LaWS) on USS Ponce ................................................................ 5
Figure 2. Laser Weapon System (LaWS) on USS Ponce ................................................................ 6
Figure 3. Navy Laser Weapon Development Approach .................................................................. 7
Figure 4. ONR Graphic of SSL-TM Laser System ......................................................................... 9
Figure 5. Navy Graphic of SSL-TM Laser System ......................................................................... 9
Figure 6. Reported SSL-TM Laser Being Transported ................................................................. 10
Figure 7. Reported SSL-TM Laser Being Transported ................................................................. 10
Figure 8. Reported SSL-TM Laser Being Transported .................................................................. 11
Figure 9. Reported Laser Turret on USS Dewey ........................................................................... 13
Figure 10. Reported Laser Turret on USS Dewey ......................................................................... 13
Figure 11. HELIOS System on DDG-51 Destroyer ...................................................................... 16
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Figure 12. HELIOS System on DDG-51 Destroyer ...................................................................... 17
Figure 13. Industry-Built EMRG Prototype Demonstrator ........................................................... 22
Figure 14. Industry-Built EMRG Prototype Demonstrator ........................................................... 23
Figure 15. Photograph Showing HVP ........................................................................................... 26
Figure 16. HVP .............................................................................................................................. 27
Figure 17. HVP Launch Packages ................................................................................................. 28
Figure 18. HVP Application to Various Launchers ....................................................................... 30
Figure 19. Navy Slide Depicting HVP Operations Against Various Target Types ........................ 31

Tables
Table 1. Summary of Congressional Action on FY2021 Funding ................................................. 37

Appendixes
Appendix. Potential Advantages and Limitations of Shipboard Lasers ........................................ 40

Contacts
Author Information ........................................................................................................................ 42

Congressional Research Service

Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile

Introduction
Issue for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on three new ship-based
weapons being developed by the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun
(EMRG),1 and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity
projectile (HVP)—that could substantially improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend
themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-ship
cruise missiles (ASCMs).
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.
The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s acquisition strategies
and funding requests for these three potential new weapons. Congress’s decisions on this issue
could affect future Navy capabilities and funding requirements and the defense industrial base.
This report supersedes an earlier CRS report that provided an introduction to potential Navy
shipboard lasers.2 Another CRS report provides an overview of the strategic and budgetary
context in which the programs covered in this report, and other Navy programs, may be
considered.3
Scope of Report
High-energy lasers (HELs) and railguns are being developed by multiple parts of the Department
of Defense (DOD), not just the Navy.4 HELs, railguns, and GLGP have potential application to
military aircraft and ground forces equipment, not just surface ships. And SSLs, EMRG, and
GLGP could be used for performing missions other than defense against missiles, UAVs, and
surface craft. In particular for the Navy and Marine Corps, EMRG could 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. This report focuses on Navy efforts to develop SSLs, EMRG,
and GLGP for potential use in defending Navy surface ships against UAVs and missiles.

1 Railgun is also spelled as rail gun; EMRG is also abbreviated as EM railgun.
2 CRS Report R41526, Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues for
Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke. This earlier CRS report has been archived and remains available as a supplementary
reference source on potential Navy shipboard lasers.
3 CRS Report RL32665, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, by
Ronald O'Rourke. See also CRS Report R43838, Renewed Great Power Competition: Implications for Defense—Issues
for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke, and CRS Report R44891, U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for
Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke and Michael Moodie.
4 For a discussion of Army laser development programs, see CRS Report R45098, U.S. Army Weapons-Related
Directed Energy (DE) Programs: Background and Potential Issues for Congress
, by Andrew Feickert.
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Background
Strategic and Budgetary Context
Concern About Survivability of Navy Surface Ships
Although Navy surface ships have a number of means for defending themselves against missiles
and UAVs,5 some observers are concerned about the survivability of Navy surface ships in
potential combat situations against adversaries, such as China, that are armed with large numbers
of missiles, including advanced models, and large numbers of UAVs.6 Concern about this issue
has led some observers to conclude that the Navy’s surface fleet in coming years might need to
avoid operating in waters that are within range of these weapons, or that the Navy might need to
move toward a different and more distributed fleet architecture that relies less on larger surface
ships and more on smaller surface ships, unmanned vehicles, and submarines.7 Perspectives on
whether it would be cost effective to spend money on the procurement and operation of larger
surface ships might be influenced by views on whether such ships can adequately defend
themselves against enemy missiles and UAVs.
Depth of Magazine and Cost Exchange Ratio
Two key limitations that Navy surface ships currently have in defending themselves against
missiles and UAVs are limited depth of magazine and unfavorable cost exchange ratios. Limited
depth of magazine refers to the fact that Navy surface ships can use surface-to-air missiles
(SAMs) and their Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) Gatling guns to shoot down only a certain
number of enemy missiles and UAVs before running out of SAMs and CIWS ammunition8—a
situation (sometimes called “going Winchester”) that can require a ship to withdraw from battle,

5 These include the following: operating ships in ways that make it hard for others to detect and accurately track Navy
ships; jamming or destroying enemy targeting sensors; interfering with the transmission of targeting data from sensors
to weapon launchers; attacking missile launchers (which can be land-based launchers, ships, submarines, or aircraft);
and countering missiles and UAVs headed toward Navy ships. Navy measures for countering missiles and UAVs
headed toward Navy ships include the following: jamming a missile’s or UAV’s sensor or guidance system; using
decoys of various kinds to lure enemy missiles away from Navy ships; and shooting down enemy missiles and UAVs
with surface-to-air missiles and the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), which is essentially a radar-controlled
Gatling gun. Employing all these measures reflects a long-standing Navy approach of creating a multi-layered defense
against enemy missiles, and of attacking the enemy’s “kill chain” at multiple points so as to increase the chances of
breaking the chain. (The kill chain is the sequence of steps that an enemy must complete to conduct a successful missile
attack on a Navy ship. Interfering with any step in the sequence can break the kill chain and thereby prevent or defeat
the attack.)
6 For more on China’s anti-ship missiles and UAVs, see CRS Report RL33153, China Naval Modernization:
Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke. Enemy missiles
are not the only reasons that some observers are concerned about the future survivability of U.S. Navy surface ships in
combat situations; observers are also concerned about threats to U.S. Navy surface ships posed by small boats, mines,
and torpedoes.
7 For additional discussion, see CRS Report RL32665, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and
Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
8 Navy cruisers have 122 missile cells; Navy destroyers have 90 or 96 missile cells. Some of these cells are used for
storing and launching Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles or anti-submarine rockets. The remainder are available for
storing and launching SAMs. A Navy cruiser or destroyer might thus be armed with a few dozen or several dozen
SAMs for countering missiles and UAVs. Countering missiles and UAVs with SAMs might sometimes require
shooting two SAMs at each enemy missile.
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spend time travelling to a safe reloading location (which can be hundreds of miles away),9 and
then spend more time traveling back to the battle area.
Unfavorable cost exchange ratios refer to the fact that a SAM used to shoot down a missile or
UAV can cost the Navy more (perhaps much more) to procure than it cost the adversary to build
or acquire the missile or UAV. Procurement costs for Navy air-defense missiles range from
several hundred thousand dollars per mission to a few million dollars per missile, depending on
the type. In combat scenarios against an adversary with a limited number of missiles or UAVs, an
unfavorable cost exchange ratio can be acceptable because it saves the lives of Navy sailors and
prevents very expensive damage to Navy ships. But in combat scenarios (or an ongoing military
capabilities competition) against a country such as China that has many missiles and UAVs and a
capacity for building or acquiring many more, an unfavorable cost exchange ratio can become a
very expensive—and potentially unaffordable—approach to defending Navy surface ships against
missiles and UAVs, particularly in a context of constraints on U.S. defense spending and
competing demands for finite U.S. defense funds.
SSLs, EMRG, and GLGP offer a potential for dramatically improving depth of magazine and the
cost exchange ratio:
Depth of magazine. SSLs are electrically powered, drawing their power from
the ship’s overall electrical supply, and can be fired over and over, indefinitely, as
long as the laser continues to work and the ship has fuel to generate electricity.
EMRG projectiles and GLGPs can be stored by the hundreds in a Navy surface
ship’s weapon magazine.
Cost exchange ratio. An SSL can be fired for a marginal cost of less than one
dollar per shot (which is the cost of the fuel needed to generate the electricity
used in the shot), while GLGP reportedly had an estimated unit procurement cost
in 2018 of about $85,000.10
High-energy SSLs that have enough beam power to counter small boats and UAVs, but not
enough to counter missiles, could nevertheless indirectly improve a ship’s ability to counter
missiles by permitting the ship to use fewer of its SAMs for countering UAVs, and more of them
for countering missiles. Similarly, even though GLGPs fired from 5-inch powder guns might not
be able to counter anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), they could indirectly improve a ship’s
ability to counter ASBMs by permitting the ship to use fewer of its SAMs for countering ASCMs
and more of its SAMs for countering ASBMs.
Solid State Lasers (SSLs)
Overview
The Navy in recent years has leveraged both significant advancements in industrial SSLs and
decades of research and development work on military lasers done by other parts of DOD to

9 The missile cells on a Navy cruiser or destroyers are clustered together in an installation called a Vertical Launch
System (VLS). VLS cells cannot be reloaded while the ship is underway; a ship needs to return to a port or a calm
anchorage to reload its VLS.
10 Sources for cost figure for GLGP: Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “$86,000 + 5,600 MPH = Hyper Velocity Missile
Defense,” Breaking Defense, January 26, 2018; Jared Keller, “The U.S. Military Has a New ‘Bullet’ That Attacks At
Mach Six (with 100 Mile Range),” National Interest, February 3, 2018.
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make substantial progress toward deploying high-energy SSLs on Navy surface ships.11 Navy
surface ships would use high-energy SSLs initially for jamming or confusing (i.e., “dazzling”)
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, for countering small boats and
UAVs, and potentially in the future for countering enemy missiles as well. High-energy SSLs on
Navy ships would generally be short-range defensive weapons—they would generally counter
targets at ranges of about one mile to perhaps eventually a few miles.
In addition to a low marginal cost per shot and deep magazine, potential advantages of shipboard
lasers include fast engagement times, an ability to counter radically maneuvering missiles, an
ability to conduct precision engagements, and an ability to use lasers for graduated responses
ranging from detecting and monitoring targets to causing disabling damage. Potential limitations
of shipboard lasers relate to line of sight; atmospheric absorption, scattering, and turbulence
(which prevent shipboard lasers from being all-weather weapons); an effect known as thermal
blooming that can reduce laser effectiveness; countering saturation attacks; possible adversary
use of hardened targets and countermeasures; and risk of collateral damage, including damage to
aircraft and satellites and permanent damage to human eyesight, including blinding. These
potential advantages and limitations are discussed in greater detail in the Appendix.
Earlier Developments
Earlier developments in the Navy’s efforts to develop high-energy SSLs include the following:
 Between 2009 and 2012, the Navy successfully tested a prototype SSL called the
Laser Weapon System (LaWS) against UAVs in a series of engagements that took
place initially on land and subsequently on a Navy ship at sea. LaWS had a
reported beam power of 30 kilowatts (kW).12
 Between 2010 and 2011, the Navy tested another prototype SSL called the
Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) in a series of tests that culminated with an
MLD installed on a Navy ship successfully engaging a small boat.
 In August 2014, the Navy installed LaWS on the USS Ponce (pronounced pon-
SAY)—a converted amphibious ship that operated in the Persian Gulf as an
interim Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB[I])13—to conduct evaluation of
shipboard lasers in an operational setting against swarming boats and swarming
UAVs (Figure 1 and Figure 2).
 In December 2014, the Navy declared LaWS on the Ponce to be an “operational”
system.14 Ponce remained in the Persian Gulf until it was relieved in September

11 In discussions of potential Navy shipboard lasers, a high-energy laser is generally considered to be a laser with a
beam power of at least 10 kilowatts (kW). In addition to developing SSLs, the Navy has also performed research and
development work on a different kind of laser, called the free electron laser (FEL). For background information on the
FEL, see CRS Report R41526, Navy Shipboard Lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense: Background and Issues
for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
12 See, for example, Mike McCarthy, “Navy Authorized To Use Ship-Based Laser In Battle,” Defense Daily, December
11, 2014: 3.
13 As an interim AFSB, Ponce operated in the Persian Gulf as a “mother ship” for Navy helicopter and small boat
operations. Ships referred to as AFSBs are now referred to as Expeditionary Sea Base ships (ESBs).
14 Mike McCarthy, “Navy Authorized To Use Ship-Based Laser In Battle,” Defense Daily, December 11, 2014: 3; Sam
LaGrone, “U.S. Navy Allowed to Use Persian Gulf Laser for Defense,” USNI News, December 10, 2014; Philip Ewing,
“Navy Declares Laser Weapon ‘Operational,’” Politico Pro (Pro Defense Report), December 10, 2014; Statement of
Rear Admiral Mathias W. Winter, United States Navy, Chief of Naval Research, Before the Emerging Threats and
Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on The Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request,
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2017 by its replacement, the new-construction Expeditionary Sea Base ship
Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3). Ponce returned to the United States and was
decommissioned in October 2017, at which point LaWS was removed from
Ponce. LaWS is to be refurbished to serve as a land-based test asset for the
HELIOS effort discussed below.15
Figure 1. Laser Weapon System (LaWS) on USS Ponce

Source: Navy photograph dated November 16, 2014, accompanying David Smalley, “Historic Leap: Navy
Shipboard Laser Operates in Arabian Gulf,” Navy News Service, December 10, 2014, accessed August 12, 2015, at
http://www.navy.mil/list_al .asp?id=84805.
Current Development Roadmap
The Navy is currently developing SSLs with improved capability for countering surface craft and
UAVs, and eventually a capability for countering ASCMs. Navy efforts to develop these more-
capable lasers include
 the Solid State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort;
 the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN);
 the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as
the high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS);
and
 the High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP).

February 24, 2016, p. 15.
15 Source: Navy briefing to CRS and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on SNLWS program, April 27, 2018. For
additional discussion of LaWS, see U.S. Navy, U.S. Navy Program Guide 2017, pp. 180-181, which refers to LaWS as
the SSL-QRC (solid state laser—quick reaction capability).
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Figure 2. Laser Weapon System (LaWS) on USS Ponce

Source: Navy photograph dated November 17, 2014, accompanying David Smalley, “Historic Leap: Navy
Shipboard Laser Operates in Arabian Gulf,” Navy News Service, December 10, 2014, accessed August 12, 2015, at
http://www.navy.mil/list_al .asp?id=84805.
As shown in Figure 3, first three efforts above are included in what the Navy calls the Navy
Laser Family of Systems (NFLoS). (The fourth NFLoS effort shown in Figure 3, the Ruggedized
High Energy Laser (RHEL) effort, is now completed.) As also shown in Figure 3, under the
Navy’s laser development approach, NFLOS and HELCAP, along with technologies developed
by other parts of DOD, are to support the development of future, more-capable lasers referred to
as SNLWS Increment 2 and SNLWS Increment 3.
An October 29, 2019, press report states
The Pentagon is pushing to double the power output of lasers, to over 300 kilowatts, so
they can defeat a threat found in arsenals from the Russian army to the Chinese navy to
Iran: cruise missiles.
“The current technology for laser sources is in that 100-150 kw class,” said Frank Peterkin,
a senior scientist at the Office of Naval Research. “It’s not enough. Even if you take all the
other elements of a laser weapon and have them be perfect” – the targeting, the cooling,
the beam control—“we still don’t have enough power. It’s a common enough problem, it
makes sense to [approach] it in a joint fashion,” Peterkin continued. “OSD’s Dr. Karr….
is leading a joint DoD-wide initiative to scale up power levels, because we all need more
power.”…
The Navy, which wants lasers on its ships, is probably the most enthusiastic of all. “The
ability to take on cruise missiles—I’d say that is the predominant goal of the Navy’s current
efforts …using lasers for ship defense against anti-ship cruise missiles,” Peterkin said….
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Figure 3. Navy Laser Weapon Development Approach

Source: Navy briefing slide provided by Navy Office of Legislative Affairs to CRS on May 6, 2019.
“We talk ad nauseam about power…because it’s the easiest, simplest metric,” Peterkin
said. “It’s certainly necessary but not sufficient.
“We need to understand those targets better,” Peterkin continued, “because the advantage
of a laser weapon is precision, and the disadvantage of a laser weapon is precision.” While
a hit-to-kill missile like the modern Patriot will just crash into the target and smash it, a
laser beam focuses precisely on a specific spot on the target and burns through. If you pick
the wrong spot, you might not damage anything vital. If the spot you picked is tougher than
your intelligence reports or your computer models said it was, you might not do enough
damage in time.
That’s a particularly acute problem with supersonic cruise missiles, whose nose cones are
already reinforced to survive the heat of friction from their rapid progress through the air.
That makes these kinds of cruise missiles largely immune to a laser shooting them from
dead ahead. It’s much more effective for the laser to shoot the incoming cruise missile from
the side, which in turn means the laser shouldn’t be positioned right on top of the target,
but nearby – for example on an escorting warship.
That’s why the service envisions its Surface Navy Laser Weapon System evolving in three
stages, Peterkin said:
- Increment 1 is the 60 kW HELIOS laser being installed on ships to destroy
drones and cripple small attack craft;
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- Increment 2 will ramp up the power enough to take side shots against cruise
missiles, so a ship with it installed can use it to defend other ships nearby, but not
itself; and
- Increment 3 will be still more powerful, able to burn through the nose-cone in a
head-on shot, allowing a ship with it installed to defend itself.16
SSL-TM
The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission states that the SSL Technology Maturation (SSL-TM)
program
is developing an integrated Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD) that will be
installed on [the amphibious ship] USS Portland (LPD-27) during FY 2019…. SSL-TM
will provide a new capability to the Fleet to address known capability gaps against
asymmetric threats (UAS, small boats, and ISR sensors) and will inform future acquisition
strategies, system designs, integration architectures, and fielding plans for laser weapon
systems.17
The Navy announced in January 2018 that it intended to install LWSD on Portland.18 Under the
Navy’s FY2021 budget submission, the demonstration on Portland is to continue through
FY2022, and the system is to be de-installed in early FY2023.19
Industry teams led by BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, among others, competed
to develop an LWSD with a beam power of up to 150 kW. On October 22, 2015, DOD announced
that it had selected Northrop Grumman as the winner of the SSL-TM competition.20
Figure 4 is an Office of Naval Research (ONR) graphic illustration of the SSL-TM system and its
components if it were installed installed on the Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship (the ex-USS Paul
F. Foster
[DD-964], an old Spruance [DD-963] class destroyer). Figure 5 is a Navy graphic
illustration of the SSL-TM system as it will appear on Portland.
An October 18, 2019, blog post included photographs (Figure 6, Figure 7, and Figure 8) of a
device the blog post identified as the SSL-TM laser being transported from Redondo Beach to
San Diego for installation on Portland.21

16 Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Lasers To Kill Cruise Missiles Sought By Navy, Air Force, Army,” Breaking Defense,
October 29, 2019.
17 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, p. 188. For additional discussion of SSL-TM, see U.S. Navy,
U.S. Navy Program Guide 2017, pp. 180-181.
18 Megan Eckstein, “LPD Portland Will Host ONR Laser Weapon Demonstrator, Serve as RIMPAC 2018 Flagship,”
USNI News, January 10, 2018; Richard Abott, “Next Navy Amphib Will Feature Laser Weapon Demo, Chosen As
Flagship For RIMPAC 2018,” Defense Daily, January 11, 2018.
19 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, p. 191.
20 DOD contract award announcements for October 22, 2015, accessed December 18, 2015, at http://www.defense.gov/
News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/625630. See also “US Navy Selects Northrop Grumman to Design and Produce
Shipboard Laser Weapon System Demonstrator,” December 22, 2015, accessed March 18, 2016, at
http://www.globenewswire.com/newsarchive/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=10158731. See also Richard
Scott, “Northrop Grumman To Build on MLD for SSL Demonstrator,” IHS Jane’s International Defence Review,
February 2016: 5; Michael Fabey and Kris Osborn, “Navy to Fire 150Kw Ship Laser Weapon From Destroyers,
Carriers,” Scout Warrior, January 23, 2017.
21 Tyler Rogoway, “Mysterious Object Northrop Is Barging From Redondo Beach Is A High-Power Naval Laser,” The
Drive
, October 18, 2019.
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Figure 4. ONR Graphic of SSL-TM Laser System
Artist’s rendering of installation on Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship

Source: Slide from February 2016 ONR briefing to CRS on SSL-TM program, received from Navy Office of
Legislative Affairs February 26, 2016.
Figure 5. Navy Graphic of SSL-TM Laser System
Artist’s rendering of installation on USS Portland

Source: Navy briefing slide accompanying Tyler Rogoway, “Mysterious Object Northrop Is Barging From
Redondo Beach Is A High-Power Naval Laser,” The Drive, October 18, 2019. The blog post credits the slide to
the Navy and describes it as a “recent slide.”
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Figure 6. Reported SSL-TM Laser Being Transported

Source: Photograph accompanying Tyler Rogoway, “Mysterious Object Northrop Is Barging From Redondo
Beach Is A High-Power Naval Laser,” The Drive, October 18, 2019. The photograph is a cropped version of a
photograph printed in ful elsewhere in the blog post. The uncropped version is credited to “Matt Hartman/
ShoreAloneFilms.com.”
Figure 7. Reported SSL-TM Laser Being Transported

Source: Photograph accompanying Tyler Rogoway, “Mysterious Object Northrop Is Barging From Redondo
Beach Is A High-Power Naval Laser,” The Drive, October 18, 2019. The photograph is credited to “KABC CH7
Screencap.”
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Figure 8. Reported SSL-TM Laser Being Transported

Source: Photograph accompanying Tyler Rogoway, “Mysterious Object Northrop Is Barging From Redondo
Beach Is A High-Power Naval Laser,” The Drive, October 18, 2019. The photograph is credited to “Matt
Hartman/ ShoreAloneFilms.com.”
A March 1, 2020, press report stated
The amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD 27) was fitted in the fall of 2019 with
a new, 150-kilowatt weapon developed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and
Northrop Grumman. The weapon, part of the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation
(SSL-TM) effort, is significantly more powerful than the 33 kW Laser Weapon System
(LaWS) installed in 2014 aboard the now-decommissioned afloat forward staging base ship
Ponce (AFSB 15).
The laser aboard Portland is installed forward in the ship in a trunk structure originally
intended for a never-fitted vertical launch system. The LPD was selected because the ship
had the space and weight capacity along with already-installed electrical cables to ease the
laser installation.
The SSL-TM laser is in a trainable mounting with a clear field of fire forward and to about
65 degrees abaft each beam. No publicly available images of the weapon firing are yet
known, although the system underwent testing last year on the White Sands Missile Range
in New Mexico.
Portland has been underway since the weapon was installed and in mid-February took part
in Exercise Iron Fist at Camp Pendleton, California, but testing of the laser is expected to
begin later this year. According to the Naval Sea System’s (NAVSEA) Command LPD
program office in late 2018, intentions are for the Portland to deploy with the weapon later
in 2020 after tests are completed, but Navy officials declined to confirm to Defense and
Aerospace Report whether that plan is still in place.
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The 2020 test program for the SSL-TM system aboard Portland was discussed in the
Pentagon’s Fiscal 2021 defense budget request sent to Congress on Feb. 10.
“At-sea testing and experimentation will be conducted with full laser weapon system
demonstrator” during 2020, according to the budget documents. “During this period the
technical performance will be evaluated in various atmospheric and sea state conductions
while conducting operational missions and exercises. Lessons learned from operations and
maintenance will be documented to inform development of future laser weapons systems
development efforts.”
It is not yet clear if the laser will become a permanent feature aboard Portland.22
On May 22, 2020, the Navy announced that Portland had used its LWSD to successfully disable a
UAV in an at-sea test that was conducted on May 16, 2020.23
ODIN
The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission states that Optical Dazzling Interceptor, Navy (ODIN)
effort
provides near-term, directed energy, shipboard Counter-Intelligence, Surveillance, and
Reconnaissance (C-ISR) capabilities to dazzle Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) and
other platforms that address urgent operational needs of the Fleet. FY 2018 was the first
year of funding[,] which supports the design, development, procurement and installation
of ODIN standalone units over the FYDP [Future Years Defense Plan], for deployment on
DDG 51 Flt IIA surface combatants [i.e., Flight IIA DDG-51 class destroyers]….
The ODIN is a government designed, developed, and produced system that will provide
stand alone units for use on DDG 51 class ships.24
Funding requested for the ODIN effort for FY2021 would complete the procurement, assembly,
checkout, integration, test and evaluation, and installation of ODIN units 4 and 5; continue the
procurement, assembly, checkout, integration, test and evaluation of units 6, 7, and 8; and provide
for the operation and sustainment of units 1 through 5.25
A November 9, 2019, blog entry showed a photograph of the Navy destroyer Dewey (DDG-105)
with an apparent laser turret installed in front of its deckhouse (Figure 9). The blog entry
speculated that the installation is most likely an ODIN installation.26 A July 7, 2020, press article
that reported remarks made by a Navy official stated that the system on Dewey is an ODIN
installation.27 A May, 26, 2020, press report included an additional photo (Figure 10).

22 Christopher P. Cavas, “Lasers Sprout in San Diego,” Defense & Aerospace Report, March 1, 2020.
23 Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs, “USS Portland Conducts Laser Weapon System Demonstrator Test,”
Navy News Service, May 22, 2020. See also Megan Eckstein, “VIDEO: USS Portland Fires Laser Weapon, Downs
Drone in First At-Sea Test,” USNI News, May 22, 2020; Paul McLeary, “US Warship Fries Drone With Powerful New
Laser,” Breaking Defense, May 22, 2020; Geoff Ziezulewicz, “Watch This Ship-mounted Navy Laser Shoot Down a
Drone,” Navy Times, May 26, 2020.
24 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, pp. 1031, 1032.
25 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, p. 1031. See also Joseph Trevithick, “Navy To Add Laser
Weapons To At Least Seven More Ships In The Next Three Years,” The Drive, July 8, 2020.
26 Tyler Rogoway, “Mysterious Laser Turret Appears On US Navy Destroyer USS Dewey,” The Drive, November 9,
2019.
27 Richard R. Burgess, “More Powerful Laser Systems Are Needed, Navy Technologist Says,” Seapower, July 7, 2020.
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Figure 9. Reported Laser Turret on USS Dewey

Source: Photograph accompanying Tyler Rogoway, “Mysterious Laser Turret Appears On US Navy Destroyer
USS Dewey,” The Drive, November 9, 2019. The photograph as printed in the blog post includes the red arrow
indicating the apparent laser instal ation.
Figure 10. Reported Laser Turret on USS Dewey

Source: Photograph accompanying Daniel P. Taylor, “The ODIN Shipboard Laser: Science Fiction No More,”
Seapower, May 26, 2020. The article credits the photograph to Chris Cavas.
A February 21, 2020, press report stated
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The newest weapon in the Navy’s arsenal is a laser dazzler that can stymie enemy drones
threatening surface ships. And now it’s installed aboard an active destroyer.
The system was installed aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Dewey in November,
but not announced until this week, officials with Naval Sea Systems Command told
Military.com.
Called Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy, or ODIN, the system is the technological
successor of the Laser Weapons System, or LaWS, a 30-kilowatt laser installed on the
amphibious transport dock Ponce in 2014.…
The capabilities and specifications of ODIN have been closely guarded; a NAVSEA
official declined to share additional information about how the system will be tested or
what it can do….
“Going from an approved idea to installation in two and a half years, ODIN’s install on
Dewey will be the first operational employment of the stand-alone system that functions
as a dazzler,” officials said in a news release. “The system allows the Navy to rapidly
deploy an important, new capability to the Navy’s surface force in combating Unmanned
Aircraft Systems (UAS) threats.”28
A March 1, 2020, press report stated
While the Navy publicized the [ODIN] laser installation aboard [the amphibious ship]
Portland, a similar laser weapon was fitted in more secrecy aboard the destroyer USS
Dewey (DDG 105), which appeared late last year with a different system installed during
a shipyard overhaul.
Little official information was available about the Dewey’s system until Feb. 20, when
NAVSEA issued a release describing the Dewey’s Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy
(ODIN) system as “a laser weapon system that allows a ship to counter unmanned aerial
systems.”
According to the release, the ODIN system was approved in early 2017 based on an urgent
need requirement from US Pacific Command. It was developed by Naval Surface Warfare
Dahlgren, Virginia and installed after two and half years. The system, NAVSEA said, “will
be the first operational employment of the stand-alone system that functions as a dazzler.
The system allows the Navy to rapidly deploy an important, new capability to the Navy’s
surface force in combating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) threats.”
ODIN is the first operational deployment of a laser dazzler, a Navy official said, adding
that the stand-alone system is equipped with a laser that can temporarily degrade
intelligencegathering capabilities of unmanned aerial systems.
Capt. Danny Hernandez, spokesman for the Navy’s acquisition directorate, noted that the
laser can “temporarily degrade intelligence-gathering capabilities of unmanned aerial
systems,” but he did not provide more information about the ODIN system, including its
power, lethality and future plans….
The NAVSEA release notes that, “within the next couple of years, the ODIN program will
have all [ODIN] units operational within the fleet providing a safer and more technically
advanced capability to the US Navy. Lessons learned from ODIN’s installation on Dewey
will inform installation on future vessels and further development and implementation of
Surface Navy Laser Weapon Systems.”…

28 Hope Hodge Seck, “The Navy Has Installed the First Drone-Stopping Laser on a Destroyer,” Military.com, February
21, 2020. See also Justin Katz, “Navy Installs Laser on Destroyer to Counter Unmanned Intelligence Drones,” Inside
Defense
, February 21, 2020.
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ODIN is not the first laser system fitted to the Dewey. A prototype LaWS system was
installed on the ship’s flight deck in 2012, but that system, also developed by ONR, was
never intended to be permanent and was removed after tests.29
A May 26, 2020, press report stated:
Earlier this year, the Navy installed the first Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN) on
the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey….
ODIN took just two and a half years for the Navy to move the system from an approved
idea through design, construction and testing to actual installation aboard the Dewey—a
notable achievement in defense program development.
“The Pacific Fleet Commander identified this urgent counter-intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance need, and the chief of naval operations directed us to fill it as quickly as
possible,” said Cmdr. David Wolfe, head of the directed energy program within the
Integrated Warfare Systems program executive office….
Bradley Martin, a senior policy researcher at the Rand Corp., said ODIN is not going to be
used like laser weapons you would see in science fiction movies, but rather as something
that would scramble a unmanned aerial vehicle’s optical sensor. UAVs right now aren’t a
threat to attack a ship, so destroying them quickly isn’t necessary.
“Typically, a UAV is not going to be used as a striking kind of weapon,” Martin said.
Instead, the laser would cause a drone to “lose its way” and eventually crash because it
loses the ability to target and navigate. Any adversary using the drone to conduct
surveillance of Navy activities would lose access to that asset.30
SNLWS Increment 1 (HELIOS)
SNLWS Increment 1 is called HELIOS, an acronym meaning high energy laser with integrated
optical dazzler and surveillance. The HELIOS effort is focused on rapid development and rapid
fielding of a 60 kW-class high-energy laser (with growth potential to 150 kW) and dazzler in an
integrated weapon system, for use in countering UAVs, small boats, and ISR sensors, and for
combat identification and battle damage assessment. The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission
states that HELIOS
Provides a low cost-per-shot capability to address Anti-Surface Warfare and Counter-
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C-ISR) gaps with the ability to dazzle and
destroy Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and defeat Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC)
while integrated into the AEGIS Combat System on a Flt IIA Destroyer [i.e., Flight IIA
DDG-51 class destroyer]. SNLWS provides industry-developed and government
integrated capability to the Fleet in as short a timeframe as possible, thereby addressing the
National Defense Strategy direction to foster a culture of innovation. SNLWS includes the
development of a laser weapon system in the 60 kW or higher class. Competition was
utilized for system development and production efforts. SNLWS leverages mature
technology that will deliver a mature laser weapon system capability to the Fleet. SNLWS
development leverages the Laser Weapon System (LaWS)/Solid State Laser Quick

29 Christopher P. Cavas, “Lasers Sprout in San Diego,” Defense & Aerospace Report, March 1, 2020. See also Kris
Osborn, “New Destroyer-Fired Laser Weapons Might Stop Hypersonic Missile Attacks,” Warrior Maven, March 1,
2020, which was republished as Kris Osborn, “Could Naval Lasers Be The Solution To China’s Hypersonic Missile
Threat?” National Interest, March 7, 2020.
30 Daniel P. Taylor, “The ODIN Shipboard Laser: Science Fiction No More,” Seapower, May 26, 2020.
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Reaction Capability (SSL QRC) and Solid State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL
TM)/Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) efforts.31
Following a full and open competition based on a request for proposals (RFP) released on June
18, 2017, the Navy on January 26, 2018, awarded Lockheed Martin a $150 million contract for
the development, manufacture, and delivery of two HELIOS systems—one for installation on a
Navy Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyer, the other for land-based testing—by
FY2020.32 The contract includes options for up to 14 additional HELIOS systems that if exercised
could increase the total value of the contract to $942.8 million.33
Under the Navy’s FY2021 budget submission, HELIOS is to be delivered to pier in the first
quarter of FY2021 for installation on a DDG-51 destroyer, and for the system to remain on the
ship for fleet testing and sustainment through at least the end of FY2025.34 Figure 11 and Figure
12
show an artist’s renderings of HELIOS installed on a DDG-51.
Figure 11. HELIOS System on DDG-51 Destroyer
Artist’s rendering

Source: Lockheed Martin image taken from “Lockheed Martin Receives $150 Mil ion Contract to Deliver
Integrated High Energy Laser Weapon Systems to U.S. Navy,” Lockheed Martin, March 1, 2018.

31 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, p. 1021.
32 See DOD contract awards for January 26, 2018 (Release No: CR-017-18, January 26, 2018); “Lockheed Gets $150m
Contract to Install High Energy Laser on a Flight IIA DDG-51 destroyer,” NavalToday.com, January 29, 2018;
Kimberly Underwood, “Navy Selects Lockheed Martin to Deliver Laser Energy Weapon,” Signal, January 30, 2018;
Richard Scott, “Lockheed Martin to Develop HELIOS Laser Weapon for DDG 51 Flight IIA Destroyer,” Jane’s Navy
International
, January 30, 2018; “Lockheed Martin Receives $150 Million Contract to Deliver Integrated High Energy
Laser Weapon Systems to U.S. Navy,” Lockheed Martin, March 1, 2018; Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “First Combat Laser
For Navy Warship: Lockheed HELIOS,” Breaking Defense, March 1, 2018; Jeff Hecht, “Lockheed Martin to Develop
Laser Weapons for U.S. Navy Destroyers,” IEEE Spectrum, March 2, 2018; Justin Bachman, “The Navy Wants a Laser
to Blow Drones Out of the Sky,” March 2, 2018.
33 Richard Abott, “HELIOS Laser To Be First Fully Integrated On U.S. Ship,” Defense Daily, March 5 2018: 10-12.
34 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, p. 1030.
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Figure 12. HELIOS System on DDG-51 Destroyer
Detail from artist’s rendering

Source: Detail from Lockheed Martin image taken from “Lockheed Martin Receives $150 Mil ion Contract to
Deliver Integrated High Energy Laser Weapon Systems to U.S. Navy,” Lockheed Martin, March 1, 2018.
A March 21, 2019, press report states
The Navy is planning to install the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with
Surveillance (HELIOS) directed energy (DE) system on a DDG-51 Flight IIA destroyer by
FY 2021 as it learns how to integrate laser weapons on its ships, a top official said
Wednesday [March 20].
Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, director of Navy Surface Warfare, called characterized the Navy’s
plans to integrate directed energy weapons as “yes we are going to burn the boats if you
will, and move forward with this technology.”
Boxall said the Navy plans to install a HELIOS system on a West Coast DDG-51 in 2021.
“It’s already POM’ed in there to do that,35 hopefully a West Coast destroyer in ’21,
onboard. We’ll be testing it and then putting it aboard the ship.”
The Lockheed Martin [LMT] HELIOS will consist of a 60-150 kW single laser beam that
can target unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and small boats. The HELIOS is expected to
be integrated on to a destroyer for its lifetime.

35 This means that the installation has already been included in the Program Objective Memorandum (POM), an
internal DOD document that is used to guide the preparation of the next proposed budget that DOD will submit to
Congress.
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The weapon will also feed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data into the
ship’s combat system and provide a counter-UAS (C-UAS) ISR dazzler capability. The
dazzler uses a lower power setting to confuse or reduce ISR capabilities of a hostile UAS.
Boxall said he is confident increased DE power outputs will come, but he is not yet
confident in integrating them into existing combat systems.
“Because if I’m going to burn the boats, I’m going to replace something that I have on
ships today doing that mission with these weapons. And if I do that, I’ve got to be confident
that it’s going to work and it’s going to cover those missions.”
He added that if a ship has a new DE laser weapon that will both sense and kill targets,
“then I have to make sure it integrates with the other things that I have on my ship that can
sense and kill—namely the Aegis weapon system. And so to me the most important aspect
of the integrated laser is its integration into my existing combat system, period.”
While Boxall is confident the Navy can continue to increase laser weapon power on ship,
one major limiting factor is power margin.
The first HELIOS going on a destroyer will go on a Flight IIA ship, but the Flight III as a
downside that it uses almost the same hull but focuses more power generation on the new
AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR). The AMDR will better detect air and
missile threats, but “we are out of schlitz with regard to power. We used a lot of power for
that and we don’t have as much” extra for additional functions.
Boxall said to get a HELIOS on a DDG-51 Flight III, the Navy will have to either remove
something or look at “very aggressive power management.” This is part of the calculus in
the successor to the DDG-51, the Large Surface Combatant (LSC)….
Last year, the Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $150 million contract to develop two
HELIOS systems in early 2018, with one to integrate on a DDG-51 and one for land-based
testing….
However, the FY ’19 defense authorization bill restricted the Navy to only one HELIOS
per fiscal year without first receiving a detailed contracting and acquisition strategy report.
The HELIOS will not merely be bolted on the ship, but integrated into its Aegis combat
system to direct the DE weapon….
More recently, in January Lockheed Martin officials said they plan to put HELIOS through
a production design review in 2019….36
A January 13, 2020, press report stated
The Navy will put a laser weapon on a Littoral Combat Ship for the first time this year,
amid efforts to boost the LCS’s lethality and to develop and field a family of laser systems.
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) will receive a laser weapon during its upcoming deployment,
Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Richard Brown told reporters. The ship
will likely deploy to U.S. 4th Fleet, where sister ship USS Detroit is currently operating.
USNI News understands that Little Rock would be taking on a Lockheed Martin-made
150-kilowatt high energy laser, as part of a risk reduction effort between the company, the
Office of Naval Research and the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare

36 Rich Abott, “Navy To ‘Burn The Boats’ With Laser For Destroyer In 2021, Needs Bugger LSC For Lasers,” Defense
Daily
, March 21, 2019. See also Sam LaGrone, “Navy Ready to ‘Burn the Boats’ with 2021 Laser Installation on a
Destroyer,” USNI News, March 20, 2019; Kyle Mizokami, “The Navy Plans to Put HELIOS Laser Weapon on
Destroyer by 2021,” Popular Mechanics, March 21, 2019; Justin Katz, “HELIOS Set for Critical Design Review in
2020, Delivery in May 2021,” Inside Defense, May 2, 2019; Marc Selinger, “US Navy Tweaks Destroyer-Based Laser
Effort,” Shephard Media, May 8, 2019.
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Systems. The effort would contribute to a larger layered laser defense effort, a source told
USNI News.
The laser weapon would aid the LCS in its surface warfare mission to counter fast-attack
craft and unmanned aerial systems and detect incoming targets….
A source told USNI News that, because Lockheed Martin makes the Freedom-variant LCS,
it was able to design its 150kw laser with the right interfaces and margins in mind to make
it compatible for this kind of at-sea LCS demonstration.37
A March 9, 2020, DOD contract award announcement stated:
Lockheed Martin Corp., Baltimore, Maryland, is awarded a $22,436,852 letter contract for
the integration, demonstration, testing and operation of the Layered Laser Defense (LLD)
weapon system prototype onboard a Navy littoral combat ship while that vessel is
underway.… Key areas of work to be performed include development of a prototype
structure and enclosure to protect the LLD from ships motion and maritime environment
in a mission module format; system integration and test with government-furnished
equipment; platform integration and system operational verification and test; systems
engineering; test planning; data collection and analysis support; and operational
demonstration. Work is expected to be complete by July 2021.38
HELCAP
The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission states that the HELCAP effort
will expedite the development, experimentation, integration and demonstration of critical
technologies to defeat crossing Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCM) by addressing the
remaining technical challenges, e.g.: atmospheric turbulence, automatic target
identification and aim point selection, precision target tracking with low jitter in high
clutter conditions, advanced beam control, and higher power HEL development. HELCAP
will assess, develop, experiment, and demonstrate the various laser weapon system
technologies and methods of implementation required to defeat ASCMs in a crossing
engagement.
HELCAP will leverage the knowledge gained in the Navy Laser Family of Systems
(NLFoS) efforts:
- Alternative Laser Sources for higher powers, also known as the Ruggedized High Energy
Laser (RHEL) activities;
- Solid State Laser Tech Maturation [SSL-TGM] activities that provides initial key
enabling technical solutions in high power lasers and beam control, and will provide
opportunities for single ship operational and sustainment learning;
- Surface Navy Laser Weapon System Increment 1 (SNLWS Inc. 1) [i.e., HELIOS] project
that provides the initial combat system integration and installation knowledge for Aegis
platforms, and multi-ship battle force operations knowledge; [and]
- Optical Dazzling Interdictor Navy (ODIN) that provides Counter-ISR technical and fleet
operational knowledge.

37 Megan Eckstein, “Littoral Combat Ship Will Field Laser Weapon as Part of Lockheed Martin, Navy Test,” USNI
News
, January 13, 2020.
38 Department of Defense, “Contracts for March 9, 2020.” See also Rich Abott, “Lockheed Martin Nabs $22 Million
Contract For Layered Laser Defense Prototype On LCS,” Defense Daily, March 16, 2020.
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This leveraged knowledge and new HELCAP technical solutions to the C-ASCM problem
will enable a fully informed decision to rapidly field an integrated, fleet ready, HEL [hjigh
energy laser] Weapon.39
The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission states that HELCAP activities include “adapting
an OSD 300 kW+ laser source for transport and integration with the prototype system….”40
Under the Navy’s FY2021 budget submission, demonstrations of HELCAP’s ability to detect and
defeat ASCMs are to occur in the second through fourth quarters of FY2023.41
Remaining Development Challenges
In addition to achieving higher beam powers, remaining development challenges for high-energy
SSLs include, among other things, making the system rugged enough for extended shipboard use,
making the beam director (the telescope-like part of the laser that sends the beam toward the
target) suitable for use in a marine environment (where moisture and salt in the air can be harsh
on equipment), and integrating the system into the ship’s electrical power system and combat
system. A January 23, 2015, blog post co-authored by the Office of Naval Research’s program
officer for the Navy’s SSL program states the following:
In the near term, many challenges remain to develop and operate high-energy laser systems
in the maritime environment that are unique to the Navy and Marine Corps. Among these
challenges is dealing with the heat generated as power levels increase. A second issue is
packing sufficient power on the platform, which will require advanced battery, generator,
power conditioning, and hybrid energy technologies. Current laser technologies are
approximately 30 percent electrically efficient. Corrosion and contamination of optical
windows by shipboard salt spray, dirt, and grime also are technical challenges. In addition,
atmospheric turbulence resulting from shifting weather conditions, moisture, and dust is
problematic. Turbulence can cause the air over long distances to act like a lens, resulting
in the laser beam’s diffusing and distorting, which degrades its performance.
Much progress has been made in demonstrating high-energy laser weapon systems in the
maritime environment, but there is still much to be done. Additional advances will be
required to scale power levels to the hundreds of kilowatts that will make high[-]energy
lasers systems robust, reliable, and affordable. Higher power levels are important for the
ability to engage more challenging threats and improve the rate and range at which targets
can be engaged.
The programs managed by ONR are addressing these remaining issues while positioning
this important warfighting capability toward an acquisition program and eventual
deployment with the fleet and force.42
Skeptics sometimes note that proponents of high-energy military lasers over the years have made
numerous predictions about when lasers might enter service with DOD, and that these predictions

39 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, pp. 1011-1012. See also Department of Defense Fiscal Year
(FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 1 of 5, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation,
Navy
, February 2020, p. 415.
40 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, p. 1012.
41 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, p. 1020.
42 Peter Morrison and Dennis Sorenson, “Developing a High-Energy Laser for the Navy,” Future Force, January 23,
2015, accessed August 13, 2015, at http://futureforce.navylive.dodlive.mil/2015/01/high-energy-laser/. The authors are
identified at the end of the post as follows: “Peter Morrison is the Office of Naval Research’s program officer for the
Navy’s Solid-State Laser program. Dennis Sorenson is a contractor with the Office of Naval Research.”
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repeatedly have not come to pass. Viewing this record of unfulfilled predictions, skeptics have
sometimes stated, half-jokingly, that “lasers are X years in the future—and always will be.” Laser
proponents acknowledge the record of past unfulfilled predictions, but argue that the situation has
now changed because of rapid advancements in SSL technology and a shift from earlier
ambitious goals (such as developing megawatt-power lasers for countering targets at tens or
hundreds of miles) to more realistic goals (such as developing kilowatt-power lasers for
countering targets at no more than a few miles). Laser proponents might argue that laser skeptics
are vulnerable to what might be called cold plate syndrome (i.e., a cat that sits on a hot plate will
not sit on a hot plate again—but it will not sit on a cold plate, either).
Electromagnetic Railgun (EMRG) and Gun-Launched Guided
Projectile (GLGP)

EMRG
The Navy since 2005 has been developing EMRG, a cannon that uses electricity rather than
chemical propellants (i.e., gunpowder charges) to fire a projectile.43 In EMRG, “magnetic fields
created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two
rails to launch projectiles at [speeds of] 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph,”44 or roughly Mach 5.9 to Mach
7.4 at sea level.45 Like SSLs, EMRG draws its power from the ship’s overall electrical supply.46
The Navy originally began developing EMRG as a naval surface fire support (NSFS) weapon for
supporting U.S. Marines operating ashore, but subsequently determined that the weapon also has
potential for defending against missiles, which strengthened Navy interest in EMRG
vdevelopment.47
The Navy is continuing development work on EMRG, but it is unclear when production-model
EMRGs will be installed on Navy ships. The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission requests $9.5
million in FY2021 for continued development of EMRG, but does not appear to program any
additional development funding for EMRG in FY2022-FY2025.48

43 Because it uses electricity rather than a powder charge to accelerate the projectile, Navy officials sometimes refer to
EMRG as a launcher rather than a gun or cannon.
44 Grace Jean, “With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher,” Navy News Service, February
28, 2012, accessed August 12, 2015, at http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=65577.
45 The speed of sound in air (i.e., Mach 1), varies with altitude; at sea level, it is approximately 761 miles an hour. See,
for example, the table entitled “Speed of Sound at Different Altitudes,” accessed August 12, 2015, at
http://www.fighter-planes.com/jetmach1.htm.
46 Unlike SSLs, however, EMRG is not a directed energy weapon, because it achieves its effects by firing a physical
projectile at the target, not by directing electromagnetic energy at the target.
47 For an article discussing the use of EMRG in countering ASCMs and ASBMs, see Sam LaGrone, “Navy Wants Rail
Guns to Fight Ballistic and Supersonic Missiles Says RFI,” USNI News, January 5, 2015. In response to Section 243 of
the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540/P.L. 112-81 of December 31, 2011), the Navy in
September 2012 submitted to the congressional defense committees a report on the EMRG development effort. (U.S.
Navy, Electromagnetic Railgun System: Final Report to the Congressional Defense Committees, August 2012, with
cover letters dated September 18, 2012. For a press report discussing the Navy’s report to Congress, see Dan Taylor,
“Stackley: Navy Identifies Four Technical Hurdles To Railgun Development,” Inside the Navy, November 19, 2012.)
48 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 1 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, pp. 412, 414. See also Jared Keller, “The Navy’s $500 Million
Effort to Develop a Futuristic Railgun Is Going Nowhere Fast,” Task and Purpose, April 24, 2020.
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Following tests with early Navy-built EMRG prototypes, the Navy funded the development of
two industry-built EMRG prototype demonstrators, one by BAE Systems and the other by
General Atomics (see Figure 13 and Figure 14).
Figure 13. Industry-Built EMRG Prototype Demonstrator
BAE prototype

Source: Navy photograph dated July 8, 2014, associated with Office of Naval Research Public Affairs, “From
Research to Railgun: Revolutionary Weapon at Future Force EXPO,” Navy News Service, January 13, 2015,
accessed August 12, 2015, at http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=85166.
The two industry-built prototypes are designed to fire projectiles at energy levels of 20 to 32
megajoules,49 which is enough to propel a projectile 50 to 100 nautical miles.50 (Such ranges
might refer to using the EMRG for NSFS missions. Intercepts of missiles and UAVs might take
place at much shorter ranges.) The Navy began evaluating the two industry-built prototypes in
2012.
A February 27, 2017, press report stated that
a new full and open competition is in the works for the railgun. While the Office of Naval
Research and several companies will continue their development of the railgun and
projectile, [Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Christianne] Witten said the
program office is planning to hold a new competition for the technologies prior to them
entering the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the acquisition process,
known as “milestone B.”

49 The Navy states that “a megajoule is a measurement of energy associated with a mass traveling at a certain velocity.
In simple terms, a one-ton vehicle moving at 100 mph equals a magajoule of energy.” (Office of Naval Research Public
Affairs, “Navy Sets New World Record with Electromagnetic Railgun Demonstration,” Navy News Service, December
10, 2010, accessed August 12, 2015, at http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=57690.)
50 Grace Jean, “With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher,” Navy News Service, February
28, 2012, accessed August 12, 2015, at http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=65577.
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“The railgun acquisition program will avoid being ‘locked in’ to proprietary solutions for
key system components,” Witten wrote. “It is the Navy’s objective to leverage the industry
competition that ONR initially held for the subsystems of pulse power, barrel technology
maturation and projectiles. Another round of system full and open competition is planned
at milestone B.”51
Figure 14. Industry-Built EMRG Prototype Demonstrator
General Atomics prototype

Source: Navy photograph dated July 8, 2014, accessed August 12, 2015, at http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?
id=180994.
A July 21, 2017, press report stated the following:
The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) is proceeding in its electromagnetic railgun
research and expects to reach a capacity of 10 rounds per minute with a 32 Mega-Joule
muzzle launch for each round, officials said Thursday [July 20].
Dr. Thomas Beutner, department head of Code 35 in ONR’s Naval Air Warfare and
Weapons Department, told reporters that the railgun research is going well and has made
several scientific advances....
Tom Boucher, program officer at Code 35 said the ONR S&T program calls for a
maturation of achieving 10 rounds per minute at 32 megajoules by fiscal year 2019. To
reach that goal, ONR is building a series of barrels and incorporating lessons learned. They
will achieve the full rep-rate and muzzle energy in 2018 and in 2019 demonstrate the
longest life of a barrel at that muzzle energy.
After reaching these goals the S&T portion of the program should be complete. Separately
the Navy’s Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) will look at
shipboard integration if the Navy decides to do that and that office will make any follow-
on acquisition decisions, Boucher said....

51 Justin Doubleday, “Laser, Railgun Programs Transitioned to Navy Acquisition Offices,” Inside the Navy, February
27, 2017.
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ONR’s rep-rate composite launcher, which can repeat launches quicker than other test
devices, will be able to achieve the 10 round-per-minute rate the program seeks by later
this summer. ONR plans to gradually ramp up this launcher to higher rep-rate and energy
levels through the end of the year, Beutner said.
He also talked about how ONR has demonstrated the ability to use pulse power, having
fired 5,000 pulse shots. For the rep-rate firing, ONR has to use a larger energy farm or
capacitor base resulting in pulse power using over one megajoule per cubic meter energy
density.
“That’s an important scientific advance in terms of energy density in those capacitors, but
even more important that’s a size factor that will fit into the ships. Both crewed combatants
and future combatants,” Beutner said.52
A March 9, 2018, press report states the following:
Following a flurry of reports in December predicting the Navy’s $500 million
electromagnetic railgun experiment was dead on arrival, the chief of Naval Operations told
lawmakers this week that the death of the program was greatly exaggerated.
“[We are] fully invested in railgun; we continue to test it,” Adm. John Richardson told the
House Appropriations subcommittee on defense during a Wednesday hearing on Navy and
Marine Corps budget issues. “We've demonstrated it at lower firing rates and ... shorter
ranges. Now we have to do the engineering to, sort of, crank it up and get it at the designated
firing rates, at the 80- to 100-mile range.”...
Business Insider reported in December that the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities office
was shifting research efforts from the railgun, which uses electromagnetic energy to shoot
large projectiles at speeds of up to 4,500 miles per hour, to broader high-velocity projectile
study.
The Navy has never acknowledged a loss of interest in railgun technology, however. Last
July, officials with the Office of Naval Research told reporters that the power behind the
gun would be increased to 32 megajoules over the summer, giving the weapon a range of
110 miles....
While Richardson acknowledged the challenges and said Navy brass were “very
conscious” of reported Chinese achievements in railgun technology,53 he maintained the
service was still invested in the program.54

52 Richard Abott, “Navy Railgun research To Reach 10 Rounds Per Minute In 2018,” Defense Daily, July 21, 2017. See
also Hope Hodge Seck, “The Navy’s Railgun Will Get Faster, More Powerful This Summer,” DefenseTech, July 21,
2017; Patrick Tucker, “The US Navy’s Railgun Breakthrough Could Change Energy Storage,” Defense One, August 2,
2017.
53 Press reports starting in late January 2018 stated that China is developing an electromagnetic railgun, and has
installed what observers speculate may be a prototype version of such a weapon on a Chinese amphibious ship. See
CRS Report RL33153, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues
for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
54 Hope Hodge Seck, “Navy ‘Fully Invested’ in Futuristic Railgun, Top Officer Says,” Military.com, March 9, 2018.
See also Joseph Trevithick, “Depite What You’ve Heard, The Navy Isn’t Ditching Its Railgun And Budget Docs Prove
It,” The Drive, February 14, 2018; Jared Keller, “The Navy’s Electromagnetic Railgun Is Both Alive And Dead,” Task
and Purpose
, February 16, 2018; Doug Tsuruoka, “The Navy Isn’t Giving up on Its Deadly Railgun Yet,” National
Interest
, February 22, 2018.
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GLGP
Overview
As the Navy was developing EMRG, it realized that the guided projectile being developed for
EMRG, which weighs about 23 pounds,55 could also be fired from 5-inch and 155mm powder
guns. When fired from EMRG, the projectile reaches hypervelocity (i.e., Mach 5+) speeds, and
thus came to be known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP).
When fired from a power gun, the projectile flies quickly, but not as quickly as it does when fired
from EMRG. In addition, whereas the Navy’s original concept was to use the EMRG projectile
for both EMRG and powder guns—and might still decide to do that—the Navy now states that
the high-speed projectile fired from powder guns might instead be a different projectile. For both
of these reasons, the high-speed projectile for powder guns, which was originally called HVP, is
now referred to by the Navy as the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP).56
The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission states that
The Gun Launched Guided Projectile program leverages Hypervelocity Projectile (HVP)
technology developed under each of the respective Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) and
Office of Naval Research (ONR) Future Naval Capabilities (FNC) programs to provide
gun-based Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCM) defense. Gun-based ASCM defense
capability increases both ship’s weapon capacity against ASCM raids and battle persistence
in successive ASCM raids. The performance improvement is achieved without relying on
Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells for weapon deployment. This effectively deepens the
ship’s magazine for raid defense and supports larger allocation of VLS cells to offensive
capability. In addition to improved capacity and battle persistence, gun-based ASCM

55 The Navy states that HVP weighs 23 pounds. Source: David Martin, “Navy’s Newest Weapon Kills at Seven Times
the Speed of Sound,” CBS News (cbsnews.com), April 7, 2014.
BAE Systems states that HVP is 24 inches long and weighs 28 pounds, including a 15-pound payload. The total length
and weight of an HVP launch package, BAE Systems states, is 26 inches and 40 pounds. BAE states that the maximum
rate of fire for HVP is 20 rounds per minute from a Mk 45 5-inch gun, 10 rounds per minute from the 155mm gun on
DDG-1000 class destroyers (called the Advanced Gun System, or AGS), and 6 rounds per minute from EMRG. HVP’s
firing range, BAE Systems states, is more than 40 nautical miles (when fired from a Mk 45 Mod 2 5-inch gun), more
than 50 nautical miles (Mk 45 Mod 4 5-inch gun), more than 70 nautical miles (155mm gun on DDG-1000 class
destroyers), and more than 100 nautical miles (EMRG). (BAE Systems, “Hypervelocity Projectile (HVP),” 2014,
accessed August 14, 2015, at http://www.baesystems.com/download/BAES_178505/hyper-velocity-projectile-hvp-
datasheet.)
In July 2015, the Navy issued a request for information (RFI) to industry for the fabrication of a prototype EMRG
mount capable of handling an integrated launch weight package of 22 kg, or about 48.5 pounds. (RFI for Fabrication of
Prototype Mount for Naval Railgun, Solicitation Number: N00024-15-R-4132, FedBizOpps.gov, July 29, 2015. See
also Justin Doubleday, “Navy Developing Integrated Mount For Electromagnetic Railgun,” Inside the Navy, July 31,
2015.)
56 The Navy states that
The terms HVP and GLGP are both still used. Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP) is the term used in
the current development programs that [DOD’s] SCO [Strategic Capabilities Office] and [Office of
naval Research] ONR have ongoing with BAE Systems. Gun Launch Guided Projectile (GLGP) is
the term that describes the future acquisition program and the associated performance specification
that industry will compete for. GLGP is the RDT&E [research, development, test, and evaluation]
budget program element [i.e., line item] covering all guided projectile development effort including
HVP.
(Navy Office of Legislative Affairs email to CRS, May 6, 2019.)
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defense solutions provide a cost effective response to an ASCM attack due to the unit cost
of the projectile relative to missiles.
The introduction of gun-based ASCM defense for large caliber guns is made possible by
recent advancements in microelectronics, sensors, and energetic systems that enable
precision guidance and tailored lethality. GLGP incorporates these HVP technologies into
an aerodynamically streamlined sub-caliber airframe to achieve a highly maneuverable
projectile. When launched from the MK 45 Gun Weapon System (GWS) at high velocities,
GLGP’s high maneuverability combined with high kinetic energy at the intercept yields
effectiveness against ASCMs.57
As noted earlier, GLGP had an estimated unit procurement cost in 2018 of about $85,000.58
One advantage of GLGP is that the 5-inch and 155mm guns from which it would be fired are
already installed on Navy cruisers and destroyers, creating a potential for rapidly proliferating
GLGP through the cruiser-destroyer force, once development of GLGP is complete and the
weapon has been integrated into cruiser and destroyer combat systems. Navy cruisers each have
two 5-inch guns, and Navy Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyers each have one 5-inch gun.
Figure 15 and Figure 16 show the then-named HVP. Figure 17 shows launch packages for the
then-named HVP configured for 5-inch guns, 155mm guns, and EMRG.
Figure 15. Photograph Showing HVP

Source: Navy photograph dated April 4, 2014, with a caption that reads in part: “Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder,
chief of naval research, shows off a Hypervelocity Projectile (HVP) to CBS News reporter David Martin during
an interview held at the Naval Research Laboratory’s materials testing facility.” Accessed August 12, 2015, at
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=174517.

57 Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Navy, Justification Book Volume 2 of 5, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy
, February 2020, p. 972.
58 Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “$86,000 + 5,600 MPH = Hyper Velocity Missile Defense,” Breaking Defense, January 26,
2018; Jared Keller, “The U.S. Military Has a New ‘Bullet’ That Attacks At Mach Six (with 100 Mile Range),”
National Interest, February 3, 2018.
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Figure 16. HVP

Source: Slide 7 from Navy briefing entitled “Electromagnetic Railgun,” NDIA Joint Armaments Forum,
Exhibition & Technology Demonstration, May 14, 2014, LCDR Jason Fox, USN, Assistant PM [Program
Manager], Railgun Ship Integration, Distribution A, Approved for Public Release, accessed August 13, 2015, at
http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2014armaments/WedFox.pdf.
In September 2012, when the concept was to use the then-named HVP as a common projectile for
both EMRG and powder guns (which might still happen), the Navy described the projectile as
a next generation, common, low drag, guided projectile capable of completing multiple
missions for gun systems such as the Navy 5-Inch, 155-mm, and future railguns. Types of
missions performed will depend on gun system and platform. The program goal is to
address mission requirements in the areas of Naval Surface Fire Support, Cruise Missile
Defense, Anti-Surface Warfare, and other future Naval mission areas. Mission
performance will vary from gun system, launcher, or ship. HVP’s low drag aerodynamic
design enables high velocity, maneuverability, and decreased time-to-target. These
attributes coupled with accurate guidance electronics provide low cost mission
effectiveness against current threats and the ability to adapt to air and surface threats of the
future.
The high velocity compact design relieves the need for a rocket motor to extend gun range.
Firing smaller more accurate rounds improves danger close/collateral damage
requirements and provides potential for deeper magazines and improved shipboard safety.
Responsive wide area coverage can be achieved using HVP from conventional gun systems
and future railgun systems.
The modular design will allow HVP to be configured for multiple gun systems and to
address different missions. The hypervelocity projectile is being designed to provide
lethality and performance enhancements to current and future gun systems. A
hypervelocity projectile for multiple systems will allow for future technology growth while
reducing development, production, and total ownership costs.
Research Challenges & Opportunities [include]:
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—High acceleration tolerant electronic components
—Lightweight, high strength structural composites
—Miniature, high density electronic components
—Safe high energy propellants compatible with shipboard operations
—Aerothermal protection systems for flight vehicles59
Figure 17. HVP Launch Packages
Launch packages for 5-inch gun, 155mm gun, and EMRG

Source: BAE Systems, “Hypervelocity Projectile (HVP),” 2014, accessed August 14, 2015, at
http://www.baesystems.com/download/BAES_178505/hyper-velocity-projectile—datasheet.
When fired from 5-inch powder guns, GLGP reportedly achieves a speed of roughly Mach 3,
which is roughly half the speed it achieves when fired from EMRG, but more than twice the
speed of a conventional 5-inch shell fired from a 5-inch gun.60 This is apparently fast enough for
countering at least some ASCMs. The Navy states that “The HVP—combined with the MK 45 [5-

59 Office of Naval Research, “Hypervelocity Projectile,” September 2012, accessed October 21, 2016, at
http://www.onr.navy.mil/~/media/Files/Fact-Sheets/35/Hypervelocity-Projectile-2012B.ashx.
60 Source: Sam LaGrone, “Updated: Navy Researching Firing Mach 3 Guided Round from Standard Deck Guns,” USNI
News
, June 1, 2015 (updated June 2, 2015).
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inch gun]61—will support various mission areas including naval surface fire support, and has the
capacity to expand to a variety of anti-air threats, [and] anti-surface [missions], and could expand
the Navy’s engagement options against current and emerging threats.”62
A December 21, 2016, opinion column states the following:
Now the Navy is acquiring rail guns that use such energy to fire 15- to 25-pound, 18-inch
projectiles at 5,000 miles per hour. They hit with the impact of a train slamming into a wall
at 100 miles per hour. The high-speed, hence high-energy projectiles, which cost just
$25,000, can radically improve fleet-protection capabilities: A barrage of them could
counter an enemy’s more expensive anti-ship missiles.
The daunting challenge posed by defense against the proliferating threat of ballistic
missiles is that it is prohibitively expensive to be prepared to intercept a swarm of incoming
missiles. New technologies, however, can revolutionize defense against ballistic missiles
because small, smart projectiles can be inexpensive. It takes 300 seconds to pick up such a
launched missile’s signature, the missile must be tracked and a vector calculated for
defensive projectiles. A single 25-pound projectile can dispense more than 500 three-gram
tungsten impactors and be fired at hypervelocity by electromagnetic energy. Their impact
force—their mass times the square of their velocity—can destroy expensive missiles and
multiple warheads.63
Figure 18 is a slide showing the potential application of the then-named HVP to 5-inch power
guns, 155mm powder guns, and EMRG.
The first line of the slide in Figure 18, for example, discusses then-named HVP’s use with 5-inch
powder guns, stating that it uses a high-explosive (HE) warhead for the NSFS mission;64 that a
total of 113 5-inch gun barrels are available in the fleet (which could be a reference to 22 cruisers
with two guns each, and 69 destroyers with one gun each); and that as a game-changing
capability, it is guided and can be used at ranges of up to 26 nautical miles to 41 nautical miles for
NSFS operations, for countering ASCMs, and for anti-surface warfare (ASuW) operations (i.e.,
attacking surface ships and craft).
Figure 19 is a not-to-scale illustration of how then-named HVPs fired from EMRGs and 5-inch
guns could be used to counter various targets, including ASCMs and ASBMs.
DOD Interest in GLGP
GLGP emerged as a program of particular interest to DOD, which has exploring the potential for
using the weapon across multiple U.S. military services. An April 11, 2016, press report states the
following:
The Pentagon wants to take a weapon originally designed for offense, flip its punch for
defense and demonstrate by 2018 the potential for the Army and Navy to conduct missile
defense of bases, ports and ships using traditional field guns to fire a new hypervelocity
round guided by a mobile, ground variant of an Air Force fighter aircraft radar.

61 The type of 5-inch gun on Navy cruisers and destroyers is called the Mark 45.
62 Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division Corporate Communications, “DEPSECDEF Loads HVP on Test
Range, Observes Repetitive Rate Electromagnetic Railgun’s Commissioning Series,” Navy News Service, May 8, 2015,
accessed August 12, 2015, at http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=86987.
63 George F. Will, “Can Mattis Make Peace Through Technology?” Washington Post, December 21, 2016.
64 The “KE” in the next line down means that when fired from EMRG, the projectile can alternatively attack targets
using its own kinetic energy (i.e., by impacting the target at hypersonic speed).
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