While some some people, particularly those in science and medical circles, are trying to paint a less than apocalyptic picture of the use of lasers, some, like Lockheed Martin, are reinforcing that imagery. The security and aerospace company has just demonstrated how a laser with a 30-kilowatt punching force was able to stop a truck dead in its tracks by burning through the engine manifold in just a matter of seconds. And this was done, not at close range, but at a distance of more than a mile.
The prototype’s name is ATHENA, for Advanced Test High Energy Asset. It is based on ADAM, or Area Defense Anti-Munitions, a laser weapon system that has already proven its worth against air and sea targets. ATHENA takes that to the next level by adding land-based targets like this truck. Granted, the truck was mounted on a platform and wasn’t exactly moving, but, hey, it’s still a prototype and could very well be designed later on to accurately hit even moving vehicles.
The advancement that ATHENA brings to the table is in terms of power. The 30-kilowatt, single mode fiber laser was definitely more effective than several 10-kilowatt lasers used together. ATHENA is able to achieve this feat by using a spectral beam combining technique that pools together multiple fiber laser modules into one powerful beam. This technology was nicknamed Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative, or ALADIN. Lockheed Martin definitely has some fancy names for very destructive technologies.
Granted, the company does invest in all the parts that make up the weapon, including those that could very well be used for less violent purposes, like optics, beam control, power efficiency and whatnot. But it isn’t, of course, hiding the fact that ATHENA’s purpose is anything but forceful. Those destructive laser beams of science fiction don’t seem to be so distant anymore.
SOURCE: Lockheed Martin