Navy Recognition reports that BAE now offers a 60 kW Laser addition to the Mk38 mod2 gun mount currently on the Webber Class Fast Response Cutters and planned for the Offshore Patrol Cutter.
“The addition of a 60kW TLS would provide true selectable and scalable effects ranging from non-lethal to lethal. This would allow for new response options in both conventional and irregular conflicts.”
Note the laser on the USS Ponce is only 30 kW.
How it might be useful: It could be used in a less than lethal mode. It could probably be used for disabling fire against outboard motors with greater precision than a gun. It could be used to destroy UAS (drones) inside ports without worrying about where misses might land.
Why is this not on the FRC, NSC and the Future OPC
So far this looks more like BAE saying they can do it rather than saying they have done it. No installations yet as far as I can tell. They probably would have had a full scale version there if they had actually done it rather than a model.
Probably because BAE fails to mention the huge electrical power rqmts of laser weapons. In point of fact, the installation on the USS Ponce had two TEU sized power units. Where you going to put that on an FRC? Chuck can address how much “spare juice” the NSC and OPC have.
60 kW is only about 80 HP but the conversion from input power to output power is probably not very efficient. We know how hot a 100 watt light bulb can get, but it does take some time for the bulb to heat up and the heat is an unintended by product of the inefficiency of the light bulb. 60 KW is 600 time the power.
Power generation, storage, cooling, and consumption gets into effective rate of fire. How long can the laser continue at rated output before it burns up? Will energy be stored in an accumulator, capacitor, or battery or will it just tap into ongoing power generation?
Lots of unfamiliar parameters that will be necessary to fully describe the weapons’ capabilities and limitations.
In the case of the Coast Guard, wouldn’t just going to a 30mm or 40mm gun be the more practical option?
I believe the latest version of the mk 38 support the larger guns as well as coaxial 50 cal and even small guided missiles.
Seems if we wanted to upgun the FRC,… there are more practical options than lasers.
I would certainly like to see an upgrade to the gun, but perhaps the laser would be a useful addition. It could be used in a less than lethal mode. It could probably be used for disabling fire with greater precision than a gun. It could be used to destroy UAS (drones) inside ports without worrying about where misses might land.
On paper the laser is a very useful addition. The question is, is it mature enough, reliable enough and power requirements reasonable enough for it to be practical. I don’t think of the Coast Guard as the service that breaks in cutting-edge/bleeding-edge weaponry. Lasers will get there in the practicality department. I’m just not sure we are there yet.
I would assume we will not see lasers on our Mk38s until after the Navy has done it first.