Although popularized as deadly weapons in science fiction, real-world applications of lasers have been mostly benign. Almost coming full circle, however, lasers are about to make those fictional scenarios real. Lockheed Martin has just announced that it has successfully designed and tested a 60 kW-class laser weapon, breaking records as far as lasers are concerned. And, of course, this technology will be delivered to the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command for “defensive applications”.
Admittedly, lasers are destructive in nature, but because they are used in such low intensities, they are most often employed in medical and industrial fields rather than for military uses. But in March 2015, Lockheed Martin demonstrated what a high-power laser can really do, when it successfully incapacitated a truck a mile away by directing a laser at its engine.
Back then, Lockheed Martin used a 30 kW laser. This time, it was able to fire off a laser along the 58 kW range, nearly double that of the 2015 demonstration. The company achieved this by using a beam combine fiber laser system that practically gathered individual lasers from fiber optics into a single, intense beam. This has allowed it to create a scalable and reliable system that’s light-weight and energy-efficient enough to be deployed on vehicles in the field.
Lockheed Martin’s laser could give US military an upper hand in the changing face of warfare. Advancements in technology, especially UAVs or drones, have called for a high-precision, efficient, but also deadly countermeasure. Exactly what Lockheed Martin’s laser beam promises.
SOURCE: Lockheed Martin