Vice Adm. Kevin “Kid” Donegan, commander of U.S. Central Command Naval Forces, said the 5th Fleet is operating a powerful laser weapons system capable of destroying or disabling targets with dazzling accuracy, just off the coast of Iran.
The new laser, deployed from the Afloat Forward Staging Base USS Ponce, is a pivotal asset to defend against ballistic missiles, small attack boats and UAVs.
Donegan told Defense News in a Nov. 8 interview at the Dubai Air Show that his commanders have permission to use the weapon if a critical situation arises. He indicated the weapon can shoot down incoming ballistic missiles.
Donegan added that by 2020, the 5th Fleet in the Gulf region will grow from 30 ships to 40 ships. “We are definitely not leaving the region,” he said. “You are not going to see the Navy leaving this region anytime soon.”