CRS issues report on future Navy weapons

By Justin Doubleday / March 23, 2016 at 11:38 AM

A new Congressional Research Service report suggests the Navy could be poised to make a revolutionary leap in the way it approaches missile defense thanks to three game-changing technologies under development.

The March 18 report, "Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Hypervelocity Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress," first obtained by Secrecy News, states:

Any one of these new weapon technologies, if successfully developed and deployed, might be regarded as a "game changer" for defending Navy surface ships against enemy missiles. 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 missile-defense weapons simultaneously available for development and potential deployment.

Although the Navy in recent years has made considerable progress in developing [Solid-State Lasers], [Electromagnetic Railgun], and [Hyper-Velocity Projectile], a number of significant development challenges remain. Overcoming these challenges will likely require years of additional development work, and ultimate success in overcoming them is not guaranteed.

Rear Adm. Pete Fanta, the director of surface warfare in the office of the chief of naval operations (N96), says lasers and railguns have to prove they can compete with the weapon systems currently installed on surface combatants, Inside the Navy reported earlier this month.

"Right now, the technological development of those two systems … are still probably a few years out before they're seriously able to compete with the current systems I have onboard," Fanta said March 2 at a naval engineering conference in Arlington, VA. "I will continue their development. I will continue their testing. In fact, we have demos scheduled from now until the next two or three years to demonstrate the utility of those and we are all in, but before you actually land on one of my ships, you have to replace the system that you're touting you can."