Lockheed Martin's Athena laser weapon

The Athena laser weapon at relaxation.

Lockheed Martin

It is laser versus drone within the newest spherical of testing for directed-energy weapons. And in keeping with Lockheed Martin, the lasers received. The protection contractor stated Thursday that, in current testing with the US Air Drive, its Athena system locked onto and shot down a number of small drones, of each the fixed-wing and rotary-lift selection.

Athena (quick for “superior take a look at excessive power asset”) is a spectral beam mixed fiber laser, which suggests it is seemingly a number of lower-powered lasers hooked collectively to create a single higher-powered beam. Lockheed Martin declined to specify Athena’s power degree in these checks.

The army is frightened in regards to the menace posed by drones, not simply flying individually but additionally in swarms that would overwhelm standard air defenses.

“The engagement eventualities had been difficult, resembling actual menace environments, ranges and flight paths,” Lockheed Martin stated. The testing passed off at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Athena follows on from Lockheed Martin’s ADAM laser weapon prototype, which in 2013 proved it may destroy military-type rockets in flight. (The US Military did its personal shootdown testing with a Boeing-built laser across the similar time.) A yr later, the ADAM system disabled a pair of small boats at quick vary.

Laser weapons do not blow issues up the way in which explosives do. They work as an alternative by burning by way of the outer layers of the goal over quite a few seconds, both to destabilize and weaken it in order that it breaks aside or to wreck steerage or different techniques on the within. Proponents of the futuristic weaponry say that it has the benefit of low-cost, “limitless” energy — as long as there is a dependable supply of electrical energy.

In 2017, Lockheed Martin demonstrated a mixed beam fiber laser that fired a virtually 60-kilowatt beam. In 2015, its Athena system, tying collectively three 10KW lasers to kind a 30KW beam, disabled a truck by burning by way of the engine manifold “in a matter of seconds.”

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