The Mk 38 TLS concept is a proposed high energy laser addition to the Mk 38 naval gun systems that are currently deployed on most surface combatants. The results of the recent field testing demonstrated a capability to identify and classify hostile targets and provide rapid hand-off to the Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated Experiments (MATRIX) system for interdiction. The test system configuration fired against air and surface maritime targets, demonstrating a range of target effects.
Additionally, swarm tests were conducted to simulate an attack by a large number of fast, maneuvering small boats, intermingled with neutral boat traffic. These tests demonstrated a consistent ability to detect, track, classify and engage threat vessels at tactically relevant ranges.
"The success of this testing exceeded all expectations and demonstrates that our Mk 38 TLS has the potential to deliver an important ship self defense capability," said Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems for BAE Systems. "The optics associated with control of the laser allow significantly greater capability in target identification, the ability to conduct precision tracking and engagement, and provide the option of non-lethal engagements, which are critical features to enhance ship defenses."
A distinguished visitor day was held on June 29 with representatives in attendance from U.S. Fleet Forces, Naval Air Forces, Office of Naval Research, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), Naval Sea Systems Command and other service and joint agencies. In addition to receiving briefs on the Mk 38 TLS concept and the MATRIX system, static and dynamic demonstrations were conducted to give the visitors a first-hand look at the system’s capabilities.
“The Mk 38 Tactical Laser System concept was able to discriminate specific target features while tracking fast moving small boats. It was able to engage precise targets with laser energy at tactically relevant ranges," said Chris Abbott, Science Advisor for Commander, U.S. Second Fleet.
For the test demonstration, BAE Systems partnered with Boeing and used the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) MATRIX laser test bed and Boeing's 10kW International Photonic Group (IPG) fiber laser. The demonstration was sponsored by the Commander of the U.S. Second Fleet. Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren was the Test Executive Agent and the USAF 46th Test Squadron coordinated all range and safety support.