Laser weapons: US Army to test most powerful ever built next year

Lasers are at the moment used to shoot down small drones, however a extra highly effective weapon might tackle bigger targets


29 October 2021

Laser weapon

An artist’s impression of the brand new laser weapon

Normal Atomics

The US Military is planning to display a 300-kilowatt laser weapon, essentially the most highly effective ever constructed, subsequent 12 months. Normal Atomics Electromagnetic Methods (GA-EMS) and Boeing are constructing the gadget, which is the dimensions of a transport container and mounted on a heavy truck.

“The excessive energy, compact laser weapon… will produce a deadly output higher than something fielded to this point,” Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS, mentioned in an announcement.

The US Navy deployed the primary high-energy laser weapon, referred to as LaWS, on the USS Ponce in 2014, with a reported 30 kilowatt output. Most army lasers are typically within the 30 to 100 kilowatt vary, which is especially helpful for taking pictures down small drones, so the brand new weapon is a big improve.

Usually such weapons are primarily based on a number of industrial fibre lasers, with the output mixed right into a single beam. The brand new weapon as an alternative makes use of giant slabs of glass linked in collection. Such slabs have beforehand been exhausting to make use of as a consequence of waste warmth and points with beam high quality, however GA-EMS says connecting them in collection solves these points and removes the necessity to mix beams from a number of fibre lasers.

The brand new laser is a part of a US Military mission to develop defensive lasers that may shoot down incoming threats. Final 12 months it demonstrated a 10-kilowatt laser defeating small mortar rounds.

Justin Bronk at UK safety suppose tank Royal United Providers Institute says the extra highly effective laser can tackle greater targets in addition to partaking a number of targets in fast succession.

“It can enable the system to interact a higher density of incoming threats, and in addition doubtlessly interact threats which supply a shorter engagement window both as a consequence of pace or very low altitude flight trajectory,” says Bronk.

This would possibly enable the laser to defend in opposition to ballistic and cruise missiles in addition to drones, plane and helicopters, he says.

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