COMMENTARY | The Associated Press is reporting that the United States Navy has entered the realm of science fiction with the imminent deployment of a combat laser cannon on the USS Ponce, an Afloat Forward Staging Base.
In about two years, the first electromagnetic rail gun will be installed in a navy ship, probably the USS Zumwalt destroyer, now under construction and to be commanded by Captain James A. Kirk, if you please . Eventually the main armament of naval vessels will be a mix of rail guns which can hurtle projectiles hundreds of miles at six or seven times the speed of sound. The lasers will defend ships against targets like drones, small boats, missiles, and aircraft. The rail guns will provide a punch, either for engaging targets on land, or other ships, that has thus far been provided by naval artillery or missiles.
The key for these weapons is providing enough power for them to operate.New ships such at the Zumwalt will have that in abundance.
Thus the US military seeks to maintain the advantage over any potential enemy in the way it knows how to do best, with superior technology. Provided that the funding is maintained, most new ships will more resemble spaceships in Star Wars or Star Trek, albeit still plying the water, than anything that has ever sailed before.
Maintaining a navy that can defeat any enemy on the planet and can engage targets around the world is crucial for maintaining the peace. Whether the potential enemy is China, itching to gobble up vast tracks of the ocean off its coasts, or Iran, plotting against the peace in the Middle East, the US Navy is the instrument for restraining such ambitions. Even smaller threats, such as Somali pirates, must fear the advent of an American warship. Equipping those ships with weaponry once only seen on the big and small screens makes sure that an enemy’s ability to create harm is minimized.