US Navy tests high energy laser weapon system in Gulf of Aden amid Iran tensions
The US Navy conducted a high-energy laser weapon system demonstration in the Gulf of Aden, the US Fifth Fleet said on Wednesday.
“During the demonstration, the Solid State Laser… aboard [the amphibious transport dock ship USS] Portland successfully engaged a static surface training target,” the statement read.
The Navy previously tested the weapon aboard the Portland in May 2020 when it successfully disabled a small unmanned aerial system while operating in the Pacific Ocean.
Arch enemies Iran and Israel have exchanged accusations over responsibility for attacks targeting maritime vessels linked to each country in the waters of the Gulf since February.
Western countries said Iran was behind the drone attack on Israeli-linked MT Mercer Street tanker off Oman’s coast which killed two people on board. Tehran denies the allegations.
The US Fifth Fleet’s area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The Fifth Fleet is based Bahrain.
The laser weapon test comes at a time when tensions are high over whether or not the Vienna talks to revive the abandoned 2015 Iran nuclear deal would succeed.
The US has long been saying that if diplomacy failed with Iran, it was willing to turn to “plan B”, without specifying details.
Meanwhile, Washington-ally Israel has grown impatient and has repeatedly announced it is preparing for a military strike on Iranian nuclear targets.