The United States Army is preparing to field a small-sized but very powerful laser weapon system. Lockheed Martin announced having completed the system's design, as well as its development and demonstration of the laser.
The press release announcing this leap forward was published, March, 16. The laser weapon system is one of the most powerful pieces of weaponry of its kind and it could be delivered to the Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, during one of the following months.
Powerful Laser Weapon System Soon To Be Launched
The weapon is a beam combined fiber laser, which implies that it puts together individual lasers that are generated by fiber optics to create one very powerful laser beam. This way, the system can be created to be very powerful, depending on the number of fiber laser subunits that it has.
The design development of the laser was made under the Department of Defense's Robust Electric Laser Initiative Program. Additionally, all the other changes in development were made by Lockheed Martin and the United States army, transforming the laser into a 60kW-class system.
"We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air," noted Robert Afzal, Ph.D, senior fellow at Laser and Sensor Systems.
Lasers are very efficient complementary weapons to kinetic weaponry on the battlefield. They have the potential to provide significantly more efficient protection against defense threats, ranging from a high number of drones to mortars and rockets.
Lockheed Martin Pioneering Laser Weapons
The Lockheed Martin team built a laser beam that was close to being "diffraction-limited". This means that the beam was very close to reaching the physical limits of focusing its energy capacity toward one tiny, single spot. At the same time, the system also performed well in testing, as it managed to translate more than 43 percent of the electricity that powered it, into the laser beam it emitted, directly and without functioning issues.
Back in 2015, Lockheed Martin tested a fiber laser weapon of 30W, which operated under the name of ATHENA, to knock out a truck from a distance of one mile. The company has been active in the niche of pioneering systems of weaponry during the past four decades. During this time, it had massive contributions in control and precision pointing, as well as adaptive optics and line-of-sight stabilization. All these functions are essential functions when it comes to laser technology.
In the future, the company has plans to create a family of systems of weaponry based on lasers, with different levels of power, which would allow them to address a wide range of issues that could appear across ground, air and sea platforms.
However, Lockheed Martin doesn't just create laser-based weapons. In February, NASA and Lockheed began testing X-Plane based on the Quiet Supersonic Technology. The testing involves a 9 percent scale model of X-Plane and the tests involve an 8-by 6-foot wind tunnel, which is located at the Glenn Research Center and makes a perfect candidate for the tests of this prototype.