US Navy tests high-energy laser weapon in the Middle East

The Solid State Laser - Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD) successfully targeted a floating object in the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen.

 Amphibious Assault Vehicles cruise towards the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), in Gulf of Aden (photo credit: KEYPHER STROMBECK/US NAVY/HANDOUT)
Amphibious Assault Vehicles cruise towards the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), in Gulf of Aden
(photo credit: KEYPHER STROMBECK/US NAVY/HANDOUT)

The US Navy conducted on Tuesday a high-energy laser weapon test in the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen.

A statement by the Navy's 5th Fleet, operating under the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) in the Middle East, said the Solid State Laser - Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator (LWSD) successfully targeted a floating object at sea.

The test was conducted by the 5th Fleet's amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland.

The USS Portland previously conducted another LWSD test, when it successfully disabled a small drone while operating in the Pacific Ocean.

The US Navy's 5th Fleet mainly operates in the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. The region's geography, climate, and strategic importance "offer a unique environment for technology innovation," NAVCENT said. 

The US Navy aircraft carriers conduct a photo exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces in the South China Sea August 31, 2018 (credit: MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 2ND CLASS KAILA V. PETER/U.S. NAVY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)The US Navy aircraft carriers conduct a photo exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces in the South China Sea August 31, 2018 (credit: MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 2ND CLASS KAILA V. PETER/U.S. NAVY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

It is possible the high-energy laser technology is being tested as a countermeasure to drone attacks carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen.

The US, Saudi Arabia and other countries have linked Houthi drones and missiles to Iran over the past four years. 

Last month, a Saudi-led coalition carried out a wide operation against targets in Yemen after intercepting and destroying a drone that attempted to attack Saudi Arabia's Abha international airport.