The armaments company Lockheed Martin has delivered a newly developed high-performance laser weapon to the US military. Now the test phase starts.
The powerful laser should be able to fight targets from long distances.
© Lockheed Martin
As early as 2015, Lockheed Martin carried out impressive ballistic tests with laser weapons: laser cannon destroyed car from a distance of 1.6 kilometers. Now the US armaments manufacturer is going even further: the laser weapon developed by the armaments company Lockheed Martin on behalf of the US military offers 300 kilowatts of power. It is the company’s most powerful laser to date.
The weapon was developed as part of the High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative (HELSI), which is led by the Department of Defense Research and Technology. The order was awarded in 2019, and several companies were selected to develop a laser in the 300-kilowatt class. But Lockheed Martin is the first company to deliver – earlier than planned.
According to Rick Cordaro, Lookheed Martin’s vice president of product solutions, the laser uses a “spectral beam combination”:
“We describe [spektrale Strahlenkombination] as the cover of the Pink Floyd album [The Dark Side of the Moon]which shows the light coming in – in white light – and then splitting up into the different color spectrums.
We take the different spectral elements and combine them into a single high-energy beam.”
The massively increased power capacity of 300 kilowatts means the laser is able to “engage targets at longer ranges and kill them faster,” says Race McDermott, a member of Cordaro’s team.
An important factor in the development of laser weapons is their low cost in use. Traditional heavy weapons often cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per shot fired, but the energy costs for using laser weapons are significantly lower.
McDermott goes on to say that the focus in developing the laser was not only to increase performance, but also to reduce size and weight. The system should be able to be used on ground, sea and possibly air platforms. The laser will initially support and be extensively tested in the US Army’s ground-based “Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser Systems” demonstration projects.
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