The US Navy has deployed ‘Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy,’ a new weapon better referred to as ODIN. This device is defensive in nature — it is designed to take down unwanted and potentially dangerous Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), more commonly called drones. The laser was installed on the USS Dewey, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.
Naval officials announced the deployment on February 20, explaining that this defensive laser system went from being a concept to a fully installed system in around 2.5 years. This is the first time a standalone system capable of functioning as a ‘dazzler’ has been operationally employed on a destroyer.
ODIN was developed because UAS threats have ‘increased significantly,’ the Navy explains. The laser dazzler was installed on the destroyer back in November, but the US Navy has only revealed its deployment as of February.
The technical details related to ODIN haven’t been revealed publicly for the obvious reason of needing to keep them a secret — if the way the system works are revealed, it could enable the development of new drone technologies that can beat the system.
The USS Dewey will be used to conduct operations and experiments that will help shape the future deployment of this laser dazzler on other ships. This isn’t the first time the US Navy has detailed high-powered laser systems — in early May, for example, officials revealed that the Navy will install the HELIOS laser system from Lockheed Martin on the USS Preble in 2021.