10Kw laser demonstrates directed energy weapons’ role in force protection

Lockheed Martin is developing the transportable, ground-based ADAM laser system to demonstrate a practical, affordable defense against short-range threats, including Qassam-like rockets, unmanned aerial systems and small boats

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After few seconds of burn the 10Kw ADAM laser burns through the rocket's outer skin and causes the warhead or fuel to explode. Photo: Lockheed Martin
After few seconds of burn the 10Kw ADAM laser burns through the rocket’s outer skin and causes the warhead or fuel to explode. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) system is a high-power, solid-state laser system developed by Lockheed Martin as a near-term laser weapon system, designed to defeat close-in improvised rocket and unmanned aerial system (UAS) threats. The weapon is design to provide short-range defense of high-value areas including forward operating bases. The system can precisely track moving targets at a range of more than 5 kilometers (3.1 miles), and its 10-kilowatt fiber-laser can engage targets up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away. The system utilizes an industrial laser hardware paired with the corporation’s beam control architecture and software to provide the performance needed for these types of threats.

“Our ADAM system tests have shown that high-energy lasers are ready to begin addressing critical defense needs,” said Tory Bruno, president of Strategic and Missile Defense Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. Configured in a ground-based, transportable system ADAM is self-contained to conduct the full engagement sequence against rockets and accepts an initial external radar cue to engage UASs. For rocket threats, the ADAM system detects the threat and within seconds locks on the target and establishes an aim point. When the ADAM system declares a valid aim point, it fires the laser on the target long enough to negate the rocket or UAS.

The system was first demonstrated in 2012, successfully engaging airborne targets. More recently the laser intercepted free-flying rockets at a range of 1.6 miles and inflatable rubber boats at 1 mile (1.6 km). During the recent test the ADAM laser burned through the rubber hull of the inflatable boat inn less than 30 seconds. In previous tests Lockheed Martin demonstrated the system’s capabilities in countering representative airborne targets in flight, including small-caliber rocket targets and an unmanned aerial system target.

ADAM laser beam burns through the hull of an inflatable rubber boat from a distance  1.6 km. Photo: Lockheed Martin
ADAM laser beam burns through the hull of an inflatable rubber boat from a distance 1.6 km. Photo: Lockheed Martin