NAWCWD Targets Support Laser Weapon Test

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) personnel assisted with the successful firing of the Navy’s first operational laser weapon during sea demonstrations in November 2014. The team operated sea targets for tests held in the waters off Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.

The demonstration firings of the new Navy laser weapon system (LaWS) took place aboard USS Ponce. USS Ponce is a forward staging base deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet.

“There were high-fives and grins all around after the demonstration,” said lead Matt Pendleton. “Our team stood out because we met 100 percent of the target commitments we were expected to deliver – we did everything they asked us to do.”

NAWCWD maintains a sea test range at Point Mugu, California, where technicians operate aerial and seaborne targets for a wide variety of military weapon testing. The seven-man crew’s work began in November with a series of LaWS demonstrations. For eight days, the team joined in 60 laser-firing operations, including laser explosive firings and tracking-only demonstrations.

The NAWCWD crew works in the Threat/Target Systems Department, Pacific Target and Marine Operations Division. In addition to Pendleton, the LaWS targets crew included: Bill McAuley, remote systems lead engineer; Jason Lazar, remote systems operator; Brian Kelly, target maintenance lead and boat captain; Craig Beard, boat captain/maintenance; Paul Jacobsen, boat captain/maintenance; and Walter Nickerson, boat captain, maintenance.

The team brought equipment for preliminary staging and the demonstration. The high-speed maneuverable surface target and the low-cost modular target used in the demonstrations are products designed and produced at NAWCWD by the Seaborne Targets Externally Directed Project Team.

Pendleton noted that although his NAWCWD unit travels to assist with weapons testing, it is rare to travel from their home base in California to an overseas location. The open seas for the LaWS test provided a unique challenge for the target team.

“We usually work in a clinical test environment, like a sea test range” added Pendleton. “The LaWS testing was in an operational environment. A challenge was keeping the area clear, not only for security but for safety.”

Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Apr 16, 2015