Controlling the electromagnetic spectrum constitutes the future of warfare, and defense contractors continue to rapidly develop new weapons.
Mega defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, has been leading the way in developing solid-state lasers that can be employed by a range of military vehicles including ground, sea and air-based systems. As noted by Defense One, advancements in hybrid engines and propulsion systems permit modern war vehicles to produce the needed electricity demands to increase the power of laser systems.
The videos below demonstrate the power of previous prototype systems which can be seen first as an anti-rocket laser system called ADAM, then as the ATHENA system burning through a truck engine in seconds … from more than a mile away. ADAM was a 10-kilowatt fiber laser, whereas ATHENA operates at 30 kilowatts of energy as a solid-state system.
Now Lockheed is announcing that they have nearly doubled the capability of the ATHENA system into a 58-kilowatt truck-mounted system that could be ready for testing within a matter of months, and would also be adaptable to other military vehicles:
The new laser puts 40 percent of available energy into its beam, which is considered very high for solid-state lasers.
The new laser will “upgrade the capability of that truck by a factor of five at least,” [Robert] Afzal said today on a call with reporters.
It’s an important breakthrough for solid-state, combined-beam fiber lasers. Unlike the chemical lasers that the military was experimenting with decades ago, solid-state lasers require no volatile chemicals to produce high-powered beams. A combined-beam fiber laser operates a bit like a prism, pulling together different beams of light and squishing them into one. The more fiber optics you add, the more energy you get out the other end. That allows you to vary the size for different applications.
Last October, Afzal said that Lockheed was exploring putting fiber lasers onto the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Air Force is looking to build lasers onto fighter jets through its recently announced Self-protected High-Energy Laser Demonstration, or SHIELD, program. U.S. Special Operations Command is also looking to deploy a laser on an AC-130J gunship within a year.
Afzal was optimistic that the Lockheed Martin laser could help meet all of those needs:
“The core of this technology, and our demo validates this, this technology is scalable. We can go up or down in power, go smaller or larger.”
As nation after nation becomes wired for war and neutralizes then surpasses one another, new weapons must be developed to maintain military supremacy. This is the nature of military conflict as it becomes one endless problem-reaction-solution loop that only serves to benefit those who are invested in each of the three components.
Image Credit: Sputnik News