More reports on: Defence general

Lockheed Martin's laser weapons system destroys small truck in seconds

07 March 2015

An operational laser developed by Lockheed Martin disabled a small truck "in a matter of seconds" from more than a mile away.

According to the company's announcement, the 30-kilowatt laser burned through the truck's engine while the vehicle was mounted on a test manifold.

While the device was not yet ready for the battlefield, Lockheed Martin has major plans for the device.

"This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks," Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin's chief technology officer, said in a statement.

Star Wars fans would however be disappointed as military lasers are meant to bore holes in drones and missiles, not zap enemies in a flash of light.

It was also being debated whether they were worth funding at all. Lockheed though was enthusiastic about its device, and claimed it had the "highest power ever documented by a laser weapon of its type."

According to the company, the demonstration was the highest power ever documented by this kind of laser weapon.

The purpose of the test was to showcase the innovations the company was developing in weapons technology, that were more precise.

''Fiber-optics lasers are revolutionising direct energy systems,'' Jackson said. ''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.''

Athena the ground-based prototype system worked through the ''spectral beam combining'' technique, in which multiple fibre laser modules come together to establish a sole, high-quality beam that ''provides greater efficiency and lethality than multiple individual 10-kilowatt lasers used in other systems.''

For Jackson, the demonstration showed the kinds of defence technology that the company hoped to continue to develop.

''This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military, aircraft helicopters, ships and trucks,'' he added.

The military, meanwhile was already developing laser weapons, with the Office of Naval Research, for instance, building a laser weapon that would be able to shoot down aerial drones.

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