Amphibious Vessel to Receive New Laser Weapon

By Mandy Mayfield

Photo: Navy

The Navy has recently announced its second flight of LPD-17 San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks, one of which will include a new laser weapon system, a service official said.

The LPD-17 flight I shipbuilding program has delivered 11 vessels and completed 21 overseas deployments, program manager Capt. Brian Metcalf told reporters during the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.

The latest ship commissioned from the fleet was LPD-27 — the USS Portland. The Office of Naval Research is currently upgrading the ship to host new laser weapon technology.
Metcalf called the directed energy weapon, formally known as the AN/SEQ-3 laser weapon system, “next-generation,” comparing it to the laser weapon systems installed on USS Ponce in 2014.

The add-on should integrate into the ship seamlessly, he said, because the LPD-17s were originally conceived and designed to have a similar weapon capability.

The weapon system “never came to fruition, but that space and weight had been preserved all the way up through and including LPD-27. So there’s really … a vertical launch system trunk that was never filled,” Metcalf said.

The upgraded technology is currently being tested in San Diego, he said.

“The goal is to get the installation done and the testing done this fall, and to deploy that system in 2020 on LPD for the very first time,” Metcalf said.

Originally, the USS Portland was slated to be the last ship in the fleet. However, Congress added three ships over the last three successive years to the LPD-17 program, Metcalf said.

LPD-28, the USS Fort Lauderdale, was added in 2016. The vessel is almost 40 percent complete and is on track to be delivered in 2021.

LPD-29, the USS Richard M. McCool Jr., is set to be upgraded with Raytheon’s Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar, a new 3D enterprise radar system, Metcalf said. The system is an upgrade from the AN/SPS-48 currently installed on San Antonio-class ships.

LPD-30 will be part of the second flight of the ships.

“We officially got permission from [the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition] to do a second flight of the LPD program. So it is LPD-17 flight II,” Metcalf said. Flight II is programed to include 13 vessels.

The program’s end goal is to deliver 26 San Antonio-class ships, he said.

Topics: Emerging Technologies

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