Published: Wed, March 29, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

U.S. army to take delivery of "world record" laser weapon

U.S. army to take delivery of

Lockheed Martin, who developed the laser, said that the weapon is revolutionary because the technology it employs is pushing the boundaries of modern science.

Lockheed's weapon is known as a fiber laser, meaning it brings together individual laser beams generated through fiber optics to create "a single, intense laser beam". The Lockheed Martin team met all contractual deliverables for the laser system and is preparing to ship it to the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Army's specialized military vehicles "can now carry something which is small enough and powerful enough for what we believe will be militarily useful".

Unfortunately, Lockheed's tech keeps the worst part of laser guns: potentially killing people. That could make the system useful in taking down airborne adversaries, such as off-the-shelf drones.

While everyone complains about the fact that they don't have a jetpack or a flying vehicle yet, the U.S. military has patiently waited for its killer laser beams.

Last week, Gen. David Perkins revealed that a USA ally took down an adversary's off-the-shelf quad-copter with a Patriot missile. Recently Gen. David Perkins gave a presentation in which he discussed a $US3 ($4) million Patriot missile being used to take down a $US300 ($390) drone.

More powerful projectiles such as Hellfire missiles are also more likely to cause collateral damage, making them less practical in certain situations. Lockheed Martin says that it will hand off exactly that to the Army in the next few months. The Navy has previously deployed a laser with about half the power on a ship in the Persian Gulf.

Such a large power source isn't a problem if it's stationary on a ship or military installation, but moving it around the battlefield might be hard. According to a report, the biggest unfunded project that US Special Operations Command hopes to push through is a C-130 that's equipped with a power laser weapon.

According to the company, the laser system has proved to be highly efficient in testing, capable of translating over 43% of the electricity that powered it directly into the actual laser beam it emitted.

The system is created to be a low-weight solution that sits on a ground-based vehicle called a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), essentially a truck designed for carrying large artillery.

The new solid-state system is a breakthrough for laser technology, as it is much safer than chemical lasers, which require volatile chemicals to be combined to produce powerful laser beams, such as the US Army's current Tactical High Energy Laser - developed by Northrop Grumman.

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