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One lucky destroyer crew will officially be the first to rock the Navy's newest laser weapon
The Pearl Harbor-based USS Preble will be the first destroyer to be equipped with a high-energy laser to counter surface craft and unmanned aerial systems, according to a published report, with the Navy planning to one day use the powerful light beams to defend against Chinese or Russian cruise missiles.
Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, the Navy's director of surface warfare, told Defense News that the Preble will be outfitted in 2021 with the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical- dazzler With Surveillance system, or HELIOS.
"We are making the decision to put the laser on our (destroyers)," Boxall said. "It's going to start with Preble in 2021, and when we do that, that will now be her close-in weapon that we now continue to upgrade," according to Defense News.
The Phalanx close-in weapon system is used now to defend against airborne threats by spitting out a stream of projectiles from its automated 20 mm Gatling gun.
The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $150 million contract in 2018, with options worth up to $943 million, for the development of two high-power laser systems for testing on a destroyer and on land.
With the HELIOS system, Lockheed Martin said it will "help the Navy take a major step forward in its goal to field a laser weapon system aboard surface ships."
The Congressional Research Service said in a May report that the Navy is developing three new ship-based weapons: solid-state lasers, an electromagnetic railgun and a gun-launched guided projectile that "could substantially improve" the ability of Navy surface ships to defend against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles and, eventually, anti-ship cruise missiles.
"Any one of these new weapons, if successfully developed and deployed, might be regarded as a 'game changer' for defending Navy surface ships" against enemy missiles, the report states.
Hawaii already has been a test site for the gun-launched guided projectile, also known as the hypervelocity projectile, as well as flight- testing of a hypersonic vehicle.
The Navy has made "substantial progress" toward deploying lasers on ships, which would be used initially for jamming or confusing (i.e. "dazzling") enemy surveillance sensors and for countering small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, the research service said.
The Modern War Institute at West Point wrote in late 2018 that drone swarm technology is a growing threat. The report said China is interested in swarm technology as a method of attacking aircraft carriers.
Iran's Defense Ministry, meanwhile, announced in March that it had conducted an exercise in the Persian Gulf involving 50 combat drones.
The HELIOS effort is focused on rapidly fielding a 60-kilowatt high-energy laser with "growth potential" to 150 kilowatts.
Lockheed Martin said it demonstrated that a 10-kilowatt system can defeat small airborne targets with the "speed of light" capability and that a 30-kilowatt system had disabled a stationary truck target.
The Navy previously tested a 30-kilowatt laser in 2017 aboard the afloat forward staging base USS Ponce, shooting a small Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle out of the sky.
With further development, lasers can be used to save costly defensive missiles for the most sophisticated threats. Challenges include packing enough power on a ship, with advances needed to scale power into the hundreds of kilowatts, the Navy said.
©2019 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.
Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he discussed Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son in a call with Ukraine's president.
Trump's statement to reporters about his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came as the Democratic leader of a key congressional panel said the pursuit of Trump's impeachment may be the "only remedy" to the situation.
The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.
The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.
Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.
Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.
Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.
These CIA officers were the first US boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 — and one was 'Marine Todd'
Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.
The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.
Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."
That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.
Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.