Military

Video: High energy laser takes out rocket from 1.5 km

Lockheed Martin's ADAM laser system destroys a rocket mid-flight
Lockheed Martin's ADAM laser system destroys a rocket mid-flight
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Lockheed Martin's ADAM laser system destroys a rocket mid-flight
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Lockheed Martin's ADAM laser system destroys a rocket mid-flight
Lockheed Martin's self contained ADAM laser system
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Lockheed Martin's self contained ADAM laser system
The laser visible on the rocket's surface
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The laser visible on the rocket's surface
ADAM's point of view
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ADAM's point of view
The laser's point of contact visible through ADAM's passive tracker
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The laser's point of contact visible through ADAM's passive tracker

Lockheed Martin has released a video of ADAM, its high energy laser (HEL) system, taking out a rocket from a range of 1.5 km (0.9 miles). Slowed down, the 300-fps video clearly shows the laser beam striking and tracking a point towards the front of the rocket, before destroying it mid-flight.

ADAM, which stands for Area Defense Anti-Munitions is a self-contained unit designed to nullify attacks from unmanned aerial vehicles, or improvised rocket attacks from the ground. The intention is that the system will be used to protect vulnerable assets such as military bases near the frontline, acquiring and tracking short-range targets from a distance of 5 km (3.1 miles), and destroying from a range of up to 2 km (1.2 miles).

In the test, which took place April 22, an ADAM prototype takes out a "Qassam-like" rocket. Qassam rockets are artillery munitions used by the military wing of Hamas in attacks against Israel.

Lockheed Martin's video of the prototype test can be seen below.

Source: Lockheed Martin, via Geek.com

ADAM High Energy Laser Destroys Qassam-like Rocket Target

17 comments
flink
Sweet! I've been present for to watch close-up Phalanx CIWS live fire. I think the laser is awesome. The time on target for a kill seems a little long. I wonder how much energy is being placed on the target with this system and I also wonder how may rounds from an MLRS it would take to flood this laser system?
Max Orbit
Wait till they start flying HEL's on drones.
John Routledge
I can't help but feel this is a somewhat rigged demo. I might feel happier if this was an actual named weapon, rather than a weapon like rocket, and if the intercept hadn't been the easiest one possible, at a point in the flightpath when tracking is also super-easy, at a range of less than one mile. Nice party trick, but as it stands, not really useful for anything.
Michael Crumpton
I would bet that having a reflective coating on the missile or having it release vapor to absorb the heat would make this ineffective.
mooseman
I agree with Michaelc. I'm not at all convinced that lasers would work in a real-world battle. They take far too long to work and would be easy to defeat (as Michael has pointed out).
Bill Bennett
Send me that reflective coating, Michaelc, I can test it with a 1 watt 445nm laser
Australian
I'm not convinced that Lockheed Martin are in the business of throwing away millions of dollars. No one said this is a one-size-fits-all solution. No one said this is the final, deployable product. It is a great idea especially if you lived in a place like Israel where Hamas routinely fire rockets into populated areas. I make no political or moral observations apart from the ADAM stands to save lives when it can be deployed. The Israelis Iron Dome has proven very effective at surpressing rocket fire. This system would potentially save them a lot of money if it could improve on the Iron Dome's efficacy. Coating rockets in reflective coatings sounds great but would be extremely difficult to achieve in practice. It would also depend on the wavelength of the LASER used. They also have the ability to rapidly aquire and track a target and would be a lot harder to locate/detect compared to a RADAR system. I have no doubt that in due course this will end up in the arsenal of many countries.
mystixa
Back in high school, right after hearing of the star wars anti missile defense concept I thought ofthe mirror coating thing too. ... A little Laslett I read that was the opinion of Soviet scientists too. It didn't take too much longer to realize why I as wrong,and that likely the article with the scientists was probably a sham too. Even if you coated the outside of a rocket with a perfectly clean mirror, it won't work. That mirror will reflect 99%of the visible light, less in other frequencies. This is why they use high energy lasers,and in some cases highly tunable lasers as well. That surfaces wears off in less then a second as it's absorbing maybe a kilowatt of heat energy over about a square inch. even that 1% is still alot of energy, and reflective surfaces aren't generally that tough.
Nairda
Just occurred to me after watching this video. It takes several seconds for the laser to cook the missile. This is to do with the time it takes for the thermal energy from the laser to heat up the inside of the missile to a point of combustion. Therefore the practical low cost approach is for a missile to move in such a manner that the hot spot is always moving, to allow sufficient time for its chassis to stay sufficiently cool until delivering its payload. A simple approach is to induce spin, and deliberate unbalance the missile via simple flap in tail, that can be actuated as required upon detection of a heat source on its body. The best approach is safety in numbers. No missile should fly alone. And should an ADAM be detected, a few should spiral towards it, given it is an easy source to track. Put the fear of god in the LAZOR operator ! :)
Australian
@ Nairda even with only a moderate amount of high energy LASER radiation focused on the side of these objects, they are damaging the metal. These rockets travel at high velocities where any surface imperfections are going to be vastly pronounced by inducing vibrations, amplified even further by any asymmetries. The rough, damaged surface will heat up as a result of the immense air friction, weakening the missile and perhaps causing further deterioration of the exterior. Consequently I'm not convinced any missile rotation would prove an effective countermeasure if the missile sustains a short burst of continuous LASER damage. I may be wrong but again, I doubt Lockheed Martin would waste their money if they could easily defeated.