Lockheed Martin designs, tests 60 kW laser weapon
BETHESDA, Md. Lockheed Martin has completed the design, development, and demonstration of a 60 kW-class beam combined fiber laser for the U.S. Army. In a recent test near its Bothell, Washington, facility, Lockheed's laser produced a single beam of 58 kW, which the company says represents a world record for a laser of this type. The Lockheed Martin team is preparing to ship the laser to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Alabama.
The Lockheed laser is a beam-combined fiber laser, which groups a number of individual lasers, generated through fiber optics, to generate a single laser beam. This configuration enables for a scalable laser system that can be enhanced by adding more fiber laser subunits. The laser -- initially based on a design developed under the Department of Defense (DoD) Robust Electric Laser Initiative Program -- saw additional development through investments by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army.
Laser weapons such as the one recently tested can be used as a complement to traditional kinetic weapons in the battlefield; in the future such weapons are foreseen to be used as protection against threats such as swarms of drones or large numbers of rockets and mortars.
Robert Afzal, Ph.D., senior fellow for Laser and Sensor Systems for Lockheed Martin, said of the laser test: "We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently lightweight, low-volume, and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea, and in the air."