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article imageLockheed Martin's laser disables truck from a mile away [Video]

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 5, 2015 in Technology
A team consisting of Lockheed Martin engineers, technicians and military experts has successfully tested a new fiber-optic laser weapon that disabled a truck from a mile away.
The test is the first field demonstration of Lockheed Martin's new integrated ground-based, single-mode fiber laser weapon system prototype called Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA).
ATHENA is based on the company's Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) laser weapon system designed to take out both airborne and sea-based targets. It incorporates a 30-Kw Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) fiber laser also developed by Lockheed.
From more than a mile away, the laser burnt through the engine of the target truck in seconds.The truck's engine and drive train were running on a test platform and the laser was able to disable the truck without triggering an explosion.
According to Engadget, this capability makes the weapon ideal for disabling vehicles loaded with explosives being driven, for instance, in a suicide mission towards targets such as a military or civilian facility, a guard tower or a military base.
ATHENA employs a process called "spectral beam combining" which involves blending several laser modules to create a more powerful composite and high quality 30-kw beam that is more efficient and lethal than several individual 10-kilowatt lasers employed in previous weapon systems.
According to Lockheed, the successful test of the weapon represents the first step toward fitting lightweight laser weapons on military trucks, aircraft and ships.
Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin's chief technology officer, said, "Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems. 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."
Tory Bruno, president of the Strategic and Missile Defense Systems of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, said, "Our Adam system tests have shown that high-energy lasers are ready to begin addressing critical defense needs."
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
In a previous test off the coast of California in May last year, ADAM's high energy laser successfully disabled two boats at a range of about one mile (1.6 km) by burning through several compartments of the boats in less than 30 seconds (see video).
Lockheed Martin laser weapons disables boat
Lockheed Martin laser weapons disables boat
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed said at the time that the ground-based laser weapons system was developed to "demonstrate a practical, affordable defense against short-range threats."
The Maryland-based company also demonstrated ability of the system to take out airborne targets, such as rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles in flight. The system, according to Lockheed Martin, is able to track moving targets at a range of more than 3.1 miles (5km).
This is not the first time that Lockheed has tested laser weapons systems capable of tracking and destroying targets. But the new prototype enjoys the advantage of greater efficiency, being smaller and requiring less power.
Previous prototypes were relatively inefficient because they were cumbersome, required a lot of power and were difficult to cool.
According to Johnson, "The high-energy laser serves as the heart of a laser weapon system. This 30-kilowatt milestone shows our commitment to producing the high beam quality and high power needed to address a variety of military 'speed-of-light' defensive operations."
The major attraction of lasers is that they are potentially very economical.
Breaking Defense reports that a Lockheed senior fellow Rob Afzal, said that the limit to the power of laser weapons was not technological but economic. According to Afzal, it is possible to build a 500-kw system that would be able to take out even a cruise missile mid-flight.
More about Lockheed martin, Laser, Laser weapon, ATHENA, fiber laser weapon
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