A 30-kilowatt electric fiber laser weapon system successfully disabled the engine of a pickup truck during a recent field test, demonstrating how such weapon grade lasers could be used to protect military forces and critical infrastructure.
Known as ATHENA, for Advanced Test High Energy Asset, the ground-based prototype system burned through the engine manifold in a matter of seconds, from more than a mile away. The truck was mounted on a test platform with its engine and drive train running to simulate an operationally-relevant test scenario.
The demonstration marked the first field testing of an integrated 30-kilowatt, single-mode fiber laser weapon system prototype developed by Lockheed Martin. The system employs a technique called spectral beam combining, to run multiple fiber laser modules form a single, powerful, high-quality beam thus provides greater efficiency and lethality than multiple individual 10-kilowatt lasers used in equivalent systems, while using approximately 50 percent less electricity than alternative solid-state laser technologies.
“Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems,” said Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin chief technology officer. “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.”