The U.S. Navy is developing directed energy systems as a potential defense against hypersonic missiles, a Navy top admiral said, calling Russian and Chinese advances in hypersonic weapons technology a major problem, CNN reported.
Admiral Michael Gilday said developing systems that would use high energy lasers or high power microwaves to destroy the threat was a top priority for the Navy.
Hypersonic missiles, which fly at five times the speed of sound or faster, pose a unique problem for US defense systems, the American television channel notes. They travel much faster than traditional missiles and do not follow predictable trajectories like ballistic missiles, making them much more difficult to detect and intercept.
This month, the Navy installed Lockheed Martin's HELIOS laser system on the USS Preble. HELIOS, which stands for High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical Dazzler and Surveillance, is the latest system in the Navy's effort to build more powerful and capable defensive laser weapons.
In 2014, the Navy successfully tested and deployed a laser weapon system on the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf. The system was capable of hitting drones, small aircraft and small boats. Last year, the Navy tested a more advanced laser system on the USS Portland.
The US is still in the process of testing various hypersonic systems, some of which have been delayed due to a series of test failures.