The Navy has recently announced its second flight of LPD-17 San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks, one of which will include a new laser weapon system, a service official said.
The LPD-17 flight I shipbuilding program has delivered 11 vessels and completed 21 overseas deployments, program manager Capt. Brian Metcalf told reporters during the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium.
The latest ship commissioned from the fleet was LPD-27--the USS Portland. The Office of Naval Research is currently upgrading the ship to host new laser weapon technology.
Metcalf called the directed energy weapon, formally known as the AN/SEQ-3 laser weapon system, "next-generation," comparing it to the laser weapon systems installed on USS Ponce in 2014.
The add-on should integrate into the ship seamlessly, he said, because the LPD-17s were originally conceived and designed to have a similar weapon capability.
The weapon system "never came to fruition, but that space and weight had been preserved all the way up through and including LPD-27. So there's really ... a vertical launch system trunk that was never filled," Metcalf said.
The upgraded technology is currently being tested in San Diego, he said.
"The goal is to get the installation done and the testing done this fall, and to deploy that system in 2020 on LPD for the very first time," Metcalf said.