Kratos defense & security solutions has built a new naval direct energy weapon that was deployed on the USS Ponce in 2014 for trials in the Persian Gulf. The laser demonstrated its ability to destroy a Scan eagle drone, the engine of a RHIB and a RPG projectile.The precision of the Laser Weapon System allows it to be an effective tool against anti ship missile in particular the Chinese DF-21.
As tensions rise in the South China sea exclusion zone the US Navy is beginning to prepare for the possibility of a confrontation with the PLA Navy. The DF21 anti ship missile can be launched from Land platforms and sea platforms and fly at hyper sonic speeds towards US navy ships, in order to successfully track naval vessels the DF21 is guided by Synthetic aperture radar. Defense officials have determined that a single hit would be able to destroy a Nimitz Class aircraft. carrier.
The laser weapon system so far is believed to be capable of intercepting the DF21 as traditional SM3s and SM2s are not capable of effectively intercepting the missile. In order to protect US naval vessels in a possible exchange in the South China sea deploying Laser Weapon Systems would be offer adequate protection as the laser does not need to maneuver to intercept and destroy the DF21 the same way missiles do. Currently only 1 Laser Weapon System has been built but in the wake of recent tensions with China it is likely the US Navy will purchase more systems and integrate them with the current Arligh Burk Class destroyer fleets.