AFRL Laser Test Bed in Shipboard Defense Tests

Field tests with an Air Force Research Lab laser test bed at Eglin AFB, Fla., recently proved the potential of augmenting Mk 38 naval guns with directed-energy weapons, according to BAE Systems. AFRL’s Active Targeting Resource for Integrated Experiments (MATRIX) system was able to differentiate hostile and friendly contacts and fire on aerial and surface targets “demonstrating a range of target effects,” stated a BAE release. The laser and control system “exceeded all expectations” even against “swarm” attacks, enhancing a ship’s defensive capacity to “conduct precision tracking and engagement, and provide the option of non-lethal engagements,” said Mark Signorelli, BAE weapon systems vice president. Developed for AFRL by Boeing, MATRIX’ first demonstrated the ability to track and destroyed multiple flying targets at varying distances in 2009. The field tests also involved Boeing’s 10kW International Photonic Group fiber laser.