Military

Lockheed Martin laser weapon takes out truck

Lockheed Martin laser weapon t...
The laser disabled the engine and drivetrain of a small truck
The laser disabled the engine and drivetrain of a small truck
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The laser disabled the engine and drivetrain of a small truck
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The laser disabled the engine and drivetrain of a small truck
A previous Lockheed laser test taking out a small boat
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A previous Lockheed laser test taking out a small boat

The battlefield of the future recently came a step closer, as a Lockheed Martin laser weapon took out a truck in a field test. The 30-kW fiber laser weapon system was fired at a small truck mounted on a test platform, the laser beam disabled the running engine and drivetrain within seconds.

The recent field test used Lockheed's Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) ground-based prototype, single-mode laser, which is based on the company's Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) laser weapon system. It incorporates the 30-kW Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) fiber laser developed by Lockheed.

ATHENA uses a process that the company calls Spectrum Beam Combining. Though laser weapons have been successfully tested in the past, Lockheed says that even though such systems could acquire, track, and destroy targets, they lack practicality as a tactical weapon because the inefficient nature of the lasers resulted in them being too large, needing too much power, and being difficult to cool.

A previous Lockheed laser test taking out a small boat
A previous Lockheed laser test taking out a small boat

Spectrum Beam Combining overcomes these limitations 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 laser are very durable and project a high-quality beam using 50 percent less electricity than an equivalent solid-state laser.

According to Breaking Defense, Lockheed senior fellow Rob Afzal says that the limit to the size of laser weapons is economic rather than technological and that a plus 500-kW laser is entirely feasible, which would be powerful enough to take out a cruise missile in flight.

"Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems," says Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin chief technology officer. "We are investing in every component of the system – from the optics and beam control to the laser itself – to drive size, weight and power efficiencies. This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks."

Source: Lockheed Martin

13 comments
myale
Hmm so you need to be at a 45 degree angle to the target to replicate this in the testing by the look of things - or have I miss understood the orientation - so this would be an air vehicle mounted weapon or at least a high one - perhaps an A10 warthog with a laser replacing the gattling gun - hmm but does it only disable the vehicle rather than blowing it to smithereens, guess if it can cut through the engine block it could cut through people nicely
TheRogue1000
What's the estimate of time before such weapons are flying over the US?
Kelly Iriye
Futuristic Tech is not so far away!
Marco McClean
Or you could use a thousandth of the power and just blind the driver and occupants, since that's happening anyway, and not waste a useful truck.
Daniel Watkins
Is there a video of the truck being disabled? I'd like to hear what it sounded like as the engine screeched to a halt.
Gary Goodman
Must. Have. One.
Justus Jessen
when do we get the handheld consumer version?
kazeshindo
Is this more close to a super powered magnifying glass that focus all the energy at one point? Since it is a laser, they have to have a constant point on one position on the target to damage it right? If the target keeps moving from side to side or keep shifting its position, then the laser weapon will not be that effective....
pmshah
"the laser beam disabled the running engine and drivetrain within seconds." So the prospective targets like trucks and cruise missiles are going to stop in their tracks for those seconds and oblige !
kmccune
This is a joke(but its doable) I imagine all it did was burn through a little insulation on some electronic componet,with a stationary target(probaly on the verge of stalling anyway) I bet the underhood insulation quilt was even removed,wouldnt be very hard to defeat this system as tested,this is a far cry from the Star Wars,Star Trek death rays,people expect-But they will get better and better(reminds me of the system were you had to stop and raise the hood and wait for many seconds while the electronic gizmo finally scrambled the onboard electronics) we are not there yet butits coming.