Lockheed Martin completes new battle laser for US military


Lockheed Martin said it has finished developing a 60 Kilowatt (kW) laser system and is now getting ready to hand it over to the U.S. Army.

The aerospace and defense firm claimed in a press release Thursday that in testing earlier this month the laser beam system achieved a 58kW blast, a world record for a laser of this type.

A rendering Lockheed Martin’s 60-killowatt laser mounted to a U.S. army truck. The laser beam would not be visible in real life.
Lockheed Martin

"We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air," said Robert Afzal, senior fellow for Laser and Sensor Systems at Lockheed.

According to Afzal, the Lockheed Martin team created a laser beam that was near "diffraction limited," meaning it was close to the maximum limit for focusing energy toward a single, small spot.

Lockheed believe the laser will act as a complementary weapon on the battlefield and will prove particularly effective in disabling drones or incoming rockets.

In 2015, the company used a 30kW laser weapon, known as ATHENA, to disable a truck sited a mile away.

Solid state laser technology is seen as a cheap option to defend against incoming attacks.

A Patriot missile, usually priced at about $3 million was recently used to shoot down a $200 quadcopter drone, according to a US general.

Conversely, in 2015 the Navy estimated that a solid-state laser can be fired for less than one dollar per shot.

Lockheed says it is now preparing to ship the "combined fiber" laser to a U.S. Army Command center in Alabama.