Citing Rear Admiral Michael Manazir, Director of Air Warfare, the journalist pointed out that the aircraft carrier is a perfect platform for the installation of laser weaponry. Currently this weapon can be used only for defensive purposes, but Rear Adm. Manazir believes that as technology gets more sophisticated, the US carriers will be able to boast new laser offensive technology.
"The USS Gerald Ford is able to generate 13,800 volts of electrical power, over three times as much as Nimitz-class carriers, which can generate 4,160 volts of electricity," Keck elaborated, adding that while some of this energy will be needed to power the carrier's Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), the rest of it can be used by laser weaponry systems.
On the other hand, aircraft carriers have limited space on board for interceptors, since they should also carry offensive weapons. However, it is expected that laser arms will solve both of these problems.
"The US Navy already operates a directed energy weapon system; namely, the Laser Weapons System (LaWS), which is onboard the USS Ponce. It is primarily intended to engage threats posed by Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and small boats that could be used to overwhelm US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf," Mr. Keck noted.
Megawatt-class anti-missile weapons remain a distant prospect for the US Navy, which currently uses tactical lasers to shoot small boats and low-cost drones. Still US military officials do not give up hope for obtaining powerful directed-energy arms in the future. Believing that at some points lasers will one day replace some existing missile systems, they insist that lasers will be able to provide a much higher rate of annihilation than traditional missile interceptors.