Military

Lockheed Martin tapped to develop anti-missile laser

Lockheed Martin tapped to deve...
Lockheed is tasked with developing low-power demonstrator for a directed fiber optic beam weapon that can be fitted into an aircraft platform
Lockheed is tasked with developing low-power demonstrator for a directed fiber optic beam weapon that can be fitted into an aircraft platform
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Lockheed is tasked with developing low-power demonstrator for a directed fiber optic beam weapon that can be fitted into an aircraft platform
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Lockheed is tasked with developing low-power demonstrator for a directed fiber optic beam weapon that can be fitted into an aircraft platform

Having taken out drones with a laser, Lockheed Martin is setting its sights on missiles. The US Missile Defense Agency has awarded the company a nine-month, US$9.4 million contract intended to produce a Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) missile interceptor concept capable of taking out an ICBM shortly after it lifts off.

Since the V-2 was deployed during the Second World War, the ICBM has been the bugbear of strategic planners. Once an Intercontinental missile has left its silo and gone hypersonic, intercepting one is a matter of hitting a bullet with a bullet. Ideally, the time to take out a missile is right after ignition while it's lumbering skyward lifting not only the warheads, but the vehicle and its tons of fuel.

The problem is that this means hitting a missile from hundreds or thousands of miles away, which requires being able to respond in seconds, if not fractions of a second. No anti-missile has a hope of performing such a task, but a laser, which moves at literally the speed of light, can. The trick is to come up with a laser weapon that can lock on and deliver a beam of sufficient power to destroy the ICBM during that brief window of opportunity.

Using its expertise in laser architecture, ballistic missile defense system integration, optics, and beam control, Lockheed is tasked with developing low-power demonstrator for a directed fiber optic beam weapon that can be fitted into an aircraft platform.

"Our Low Power Laser Demonstrator concept puts advanced beam control systems and a fiber laser on a high-performance, high-altitude platform to maximize risk reduction value over the demonstration period," says Sarah Reeves, director in Strategic and Missile Defense programs. "Lockheed Martin has committed millions of dollars to directed energy research and development, laying the groundwork for the laser technology that brings us much closer to an operational system capable of intercepting a missile in its boost phase."

Source: Lockheed Martin

7 comments
JimFox
No need to destroy the missile, merely disable it; guidance system, maybe? Lees powerful laser might be effective and far cheaper, easier to deploy.
Bob
What if they launch during a foggy or heavily overcast day? I think an EMP weapon would work better during liftoff and if it gets above the atmosphere.
EZ
WTF?? Why bother? Who's going to attack the empire? It's all about feeding the military industrial complex.
michael_dowling
This is old news. They had a megawatt class laser mounted on a converted 747 with the goal of taking out ICBMs in the boost phase. Project ran out of funds apparently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2eehBk_DNQ
habakak
JimFox, that might also require even MORE precision (think about tracking a target at that speed and only having seconds to complete your mission). Either way, you would still need to get to the target AND KNOW IN ADVANCE that it will be deployed. Not going to happen.
christopher
Chromed mirror missiles = $100 defeat of $bn dollar weapon - next idea?
RobertEhresman
ABL V2.0. ABL YAL-1 used an oxygen-iodine "COIL" chemical laser aboard a 747 to punch a quarter sized hole in the fuel tank of a boost phase missile from a range of up to 600 km. Conops was to orbit off the coast such as over the Sea Of Japan to take out NK ICBMs. Engagements would happen in the stratosphere where clouds are not an issue. Mirrors are nearly useless against IR wavelengths. This looks like a miniaturization effort for the same basic weapon concept.