Marine Corps wants to put lasers on F-35 and other aircraft

U.S. Marine Corps F35B Lighting II assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Air Group 13, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, perpare to participate in aerial refueling missions at Marine Air Station Yuma, Ariz, June 21, 2016. The mission was to show aerial refueling capabilities for the F35B Lighting II. (U.S Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy L. Laboy/Released)

The US Marine Corps is looking to equip its newest fighter -and pretty much everything else- with high-intensity laser weaponry.

The USMC is working on a series of ways to mount directed energy weapons on the F-35 Lightning II, with Lieutenant General Robert Walsh saying it is “absolutely” something the Corps is interested in, according to The Washington Examiner.

Walsh said during a DC breakfast meeting with reporters that while the system would likely start by being mounted on a KC-130, they would find ways to make it smaller.

“As soon as we could miniaturize them, we would put them on F-35s, Cobra, any of those kind of attack aircraft,” he said. Walsh then pointed to the MV-22 Osprey as a potential platform.

“It’s very important. It’s where we want to go,” he said. Lasers would be instrumental to the Corps by lightening the load of projectile weapons it it must carry into the field, he said.

The Corps is currently cooperating with the Office of Naval Research to develop a ground-based air defense system that would be able to be mounted on vehicles as well, known as an “on-the-move” piece.

“The ‘on-the-move’ piece is trying to get it onto a vehicle that we can maneuver with,” he said. ONR has demonstrated a 10-kilowatt laser and the intent is to move to a 30-kilowatt laser, he added. The system could be used against enemy unmanned aerial vehicles, he said.

Meanwhile, the USMC is moving to deploy their F-35Bs, opting to put the first operational squadron -VMFA-121- on the USS Wasp for a deployment to Japan in 2017, as well as elsewhere.

“Not only are we deploying it on the Wasp in the Pacific, we’re also going to deploy it on Essex during the same year in Central Command,” he said. “That’s quite the challenge, to put two squadrons aboard two ships and deploy them.”

The Wasp deployment will mark another historic precedent of the Marines being first to deploy a new joint weapons system.

Once the USS Essex is declared properly refitted for the F-35, the Marines and sailors aboard will likely be heading to the Middle East.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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