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Lockheed Martin's 30-kilowatt fiber laser weapon system successfully disabled the engine of a small truck during a recent field test, demonstrating the rapidly evolving precision capability 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.
Lockheed Martin, in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the University of Notre Dame, has demonstrated the airworthiness of a new beam control turret being developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and AFRL to give 360-degree coverage for high-energy laser weapons operating on military aircraft. A research aircraft equipped with the Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control (ABC) turret conducted eight flights in Michigan.
The ABC turret system is designed to allow high-energy lasers to engage enemy aircraft and missiles above, below and behind the aircraft. Lockheed Martin's flow control and optical compensation technologies counteract the effects of turbulence caused by the protrusion of a turret from an aircraft's fuselage.
well you would be right if the aiming tech was based on prisms mirrors physical turrets with motors and hydraulics. but now Lasers can be aimed by constructive and destructive interference or frequency or phase shifting. this means aiming requires no moving parts and takes place at the speed of electricity in circuits.
originally posted by: AdmireTheDistance
I understand the need for a test like this, but I kind of wonder how "operationally-relevant" it really was. Yes, the laser is capable of this. But I imagine when the laser is mounted to a fast-moving aircraft, and the truck is driving around, rather than being propped so as to be a larger, immobile target, that it'll be significantly harder to keep that beam focused directly on the engine for the few seconds required.
Amazing technology, though, no matter how one looks at it. Quite troubling, as well.