Laser weapon prototype proves itself against moving targets

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. An upgraded prototype laser weapon system from Lockheed Martin recently shot down five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with a 100 percent success rate, during tests held in conjunction with the U.S. Army's Space and Missile Defense Command in August.

During the August 2017 tests, the 30-kilowatt class ATHENA [Advanced Test High Energy Asset] system brought down five 10.8-foot wingspan Griffon Aerospace Outlaw targets at the Army's White Sands Missile Range.

According to sources at , the ATHENA system defeated airborne targets in flight by causing loss of control and structural failure. This latest series of tests for ATHENA used advanced beam control technology and an efficient fiber laser.

ATHENA is a transportable, ground-based system -- powered by a compact Rolls-Royce turbo generator -- that serves as a low-cost test bed for demonstrating the various technologies needed for use of laser weapon systems. It uses Lockheed Martin's 30-kilowatt Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) that is efficient while retaining its lethality in a design that scales to higher power levels.

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