Military

Lockheed Martin begins manufacturing vehicle-mounted laser weapon

Lockheed Martin begins manufac...
Lockheed Martin's related ATHENA laser weapon system was tested against a pickup truck in March
Lockheed Martin's related ATHENA laser weapon system was tested against a pickup truck in March
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Lockheed Martin's related ATHENA laser weapon system was tested against a pickup truck in March
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Lockheed Martin's related ATHENA laser weapon system was tested against a pickup truck in March

Lockheed Martin announced this week that production of a new laser weapon system has begun at the company's Bothell, Washington facility. The high-powered laser weapon modules will be used as the heart of a 60-kilowatt system designed to be fitted to a US Army vehicle.

The laser can be operated by a single person and is made up of multiple fiber laser modules, which not only allows for greater flexibility, but also lessens the chance of the weapon being knocked out by a minor malfunction, so frequent repairs aren't required. Lockheed Martin also says that the modular design means that the laser power can be varied across an extremely wide range to suit specific mission needs. Using off-the-shelf commercial fiber laser components to keep down costs, the modules can be linked together to produce lasers of up to 120 kW.

Lockheed says that the laser is based on Spectrum Beam Combining, which overcomes the limitations of other lasers by using fiber laser modules where the active gain medium consists of an optical fiber doped with a rare-earth element such as erbium, ytterbium, neodymium, or others. The optical fibers are flexible, so the laser can be thousands of meters long for greater gain, while taking up very little space because it can be coiled like a rope. The large surface-to-volume ratio means that it's easy to cool. In addition, fiber lasers are very durable and project a high-quality beam using 50 percent less electricity than an equivalent solid-state laser.

"A robust laser system with minimal operational down-time results from the integration of modular fiber-based lasers," says Iain Mckinnie, business development lead for Laser Sensors and Systems, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training. "With modular lasers, the possibility of a complete system failure due to a single-point disruption is dramatically lessened. Production is also affordable due to the ease of reproducing module components."

Source: Lockheed Martin

18 comments
windykites
Presumably the beam is infra-red, so you won't see it coming!Ah, the ingenuity of man, especially when there is an unlimited budget.
mhpr262
I wonder what would happen if you fired the beam at a person out in the open. Water absorbs huge amounts of energy very well by boiling off. I suspect trying to kill an individual soldier this way would be a pretty painful, not to mention gruesome, and lengthy, affair.
Stephen N Russell
Test on US Mex border, test in Afganistan. Mount on USCG cutters & Navy DD DDG, FFG types.
Madlyb
This is not good.
Somebody is going to end up with a house full of popcorn...mark my words.
jerryd
Not that impressed as a hood sitting still is a rather easy thing to burn through. Rather horrible as an anti personal weapon but might work against aircraft and drones.
StWils
Great! Now lets try out some field testing against those cute Toyota pickups that ISIS seems to like. BTW, clearly Ford's Piece of C*** F150 does NOT measure up to Toyota's pickup from the view of ISIS. Now lets see how well they blow up.
Carl23
Here's to this being used to turn lots of those ISIS Toyotas we've seen on the news lately into fancy paperweights.
I'm just glad that our forces have the best toys, and hope it stays that way and that they are used for the right causes. Also hope that there are adequate measures to ensure they are destroyed in the event they are captured.
WxMan
We must ask ourselves, what weapons are killing our young men and women in uniform the most? I would argue mines, improvised explosive devices (IED) and small arms fire are the biggest threat. They're cheap and we should expect to see them in future wars. What does this weapon do to reduce that threat?
the.other.will
Got it in 1, jerryd. The Army & Marines are concerned about the use of drones to direct artillery & mortar fire onto friendly troops. Drones can operate outside the effective range of machine guns & cannon, are difficult targets for heat-seeking missiles, and may even cost less than the missiles. Lasers were used experimentally in Iraq to defend against artillery rockets, artillery shells, and mortar bombs fired at major bases. The results are secret AFAIK. That mission would require a powerful laser directed by sophisticated radar fire control.
ezeflyer
Oh goody! More ways to kill ourselves!