Automated, computer-targeting machine guns are okay in a pinch, but sometimes putting 180 25mm slugs down range every minute just isn't enough. Sometimes you need a little more energy, and that's when you strap a laser on the thing. Boeing and BAE are partnering up to take the existing Mk 38 Mod 2 Machine Gun System, which offers a 25mm M242 barrel, and pair it with Boeing's directed energy system. The resulting beautiful machine is called the Mk 38 Mod 2 Tactical Laser System, offering the ability to fling both hot metal and even hotter photons against whatever targets would dare come in range. This integration is said to allow for these upgraded turrets to be easily installed and controlled on our naval vessels, vessels that are, for now, still stuck on the water. Apparently we're still a few years away from the Wave Motion Engine and FTL battleship travel.

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Boeing, BAE Systems to Develop Integrated Directed Energy Weapon for US Navy

Team has initial contract to build a laser weapon demonstrator unit

Agreement formalizes effort to develop directed energy system for enhanced ship defense

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., July 25, 2011 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced that its Directed Energy Systems (DES) division has signed a teaming agreement with BAE Systems to develop the Mk 38 Mod 2 Tactical Laser System for defense of U.S. Navy ships.

The Navy awarded the BAE Systems team an initial contract in March to build a demonstrator unit of the system. Boeing is a subcontractor to BAE Systems under this contract.

"Boeing is committed to developing this directed energy system that will significantly enhance ship defense," said Michael Rinn, Boeing DES vice president. "Combining BAE's engineering expertise with the proven directed-energy proficiency of Boeing's DES division creates a team uniquely qualified to integrate directed-energy technology into the Navy's shipboard armaments."

The Mk 38 Mod 2 Tactical Laser System couples a solid-state high-energy laser weapon module with the operational Mk 38 Machine Gun System. The addition of the laser weapon module brings high-precision accuracy against surface and air targets such as small boats and unmanned aerial vehicles. The system also provides the ability to deliver different levels of laser energy, depending on the target and mission objectives.

Boeing and BAE Systems have been working together for the past two years to develop this capability. In 2010, Boeing DES conducted two experiments in the field to demonstrate the system's ability to track surface targets and maintain a laser aimpoint with high precision.

"The Mk 38 Mod 2 system is revolutionary because it combines kinetic and directed energy weapons capability," said Rinn. "Our approach is an affordable solution for the customer, because this system can be integrated seamlessly into existing shipboard command interfaces."

The Mk 38 Mod 2 Tactical Laser System project unites Albuquerque-based Boeing DES -- the industry leader in directed energy and acquisition, pointing and tracking systems -- with BAE Systems, a leading designer and supplier of major shipboard armaments to the U.S. Navy.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 65,000 employees worldwide. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.