Lockheed Martin, the defense and security technology company, demonstrated the power of its Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) laser weapon system by blasting a small truck in a recent field test. According to the company, the demonstration was the highest power ever documented by this kind of laser weapon.
In the demonstration, the 30-kilowatt fiber laser weapon was able to disable the truck’s engine. The purpose of the test was to show the company’s innovations in developing weapons technology that is more precise.
“Fiber-optics lasers are revolutionizing direct energy systems,” Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin’s chief technology officer, said in a statement. “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 is a ground-based prototype system. In the test, the laser burnt through the engine in a just a few seconds, after being fired from over a mile away.
Through the “spectral beam combining” technique, multiple fiber 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, this demonstration shows signs of the kinds of defense technology that the company hopes 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 is already testing laser weapons. The Office of Naval Research, for example, is building a laser weapon that will be able to shoot down aerial drones.