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22 Dec 15. US Navy Selects Northrop Grumman to Design and Produce Shipboard Laser Weapon System Demonstrator. The U.S. Navy will get a peek at a future where high energy laser weapons could defend its ships against attack under a contract awarded Oct. 22 to Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Under the three-phase Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) contract, the company will design, produce, integrate, and support the shipboard testing of a 150-kilowatt-class solid state (electric) laser weapon system. The initial award of $53m will support work planned for the next 12 months. The contract could grow to a total value of $91 million over 34 months if ONR exercises all of its contract options.
“Northrop Grumman is integrating the latest in high energy lasers with more than 40 years of experience as a laser weapon system integrator to protect sailors against last-minute, high impact threats,” said Guy Renard, director and program manager, directed energy, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “For about the price of a gallon of diesel fuel per shot, we’re offering the Navy a high-precision defensive approach that will protect not only its sailors, but also its wallet.”
During Phase 1 of the LWSD contract, Northrop Grumman will develop a detailed design for the new system. Phase 2 will include assembly and ground test of the system, while Phase 3 will comprise at-sea testing of the system aboard the Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS). The Navy will lead this testing with Northrop Grumman providing technical support. The SDTS is the former USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964).
According to Renard, Northrop Grumman’s LWSD is well suited to support the Navy’s planned initial testing on the SDTS. The company has designed its system to be installed, however, with minimal modification or additional costs, for demonstration on the Navy’s DDG-51 FLT II class destroyers.
Future Navy laser weapon systems could eventually protect a wide array of naval platforms from advanced surface and air threats.
22 Dec 15. After Afghanistan, Marines Seek Lighter, More Agile Artillery. The Marine Corps is in the early stages of a complex revamp of its artillery doctrine that will enable the force to be lighter, faster and more lethal in order to respond to future conflicts and a new style of fighting. At the heart of this revamp is Expeditionary Force 21, the Corps’ new concept of fighting that emphasizes smaller units functioning independently over distributed areas in Pacific littoral zones and other regions. Among the ideas the Corps is testing out is that of having artillery platoons provide direct support to Marine companies for ship-to-shore maneuvers and other expeditionary movements. Earlier this month, some 200 troops from 10th Marine Regiment out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. participated in an experiment that paired different weapons from their artillery arsenal with a company landing team to determine the feasibility of this approach in realistic fighting conditions.
It’s a departure from the Marines’ traditional approach, which has larger artillery batteries supporting entire battalions of Marines.
“Artillery support in support of ground forces, our infantry, it provides bigger bang for the buck, the ability to reach out and touch the bad guys with large caliber indirect weapons systems,” Capt. Jay Dodge, artillery training school director for 10th Marine Regiment, told Military.com. Dodge said the idea of deploying gun platoons in support of smaller infantry elements was new territory for the Marines.
“This is not how we fight. It’s a change to our doctrine,” he said.
The eight-day experiment, which also involved personnel from Lejeune’s 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, ran a company landing team through the same series of movements with a sequence of