Northrop Grumman is working with the U.S. Air Force to develop radical new laser weapons for supersonic fighter jets and hopes to test them in 2019, it has been revealed.
The technology, known as ‘directed energy systems’ will be fitted to future craft to allow them to protect themselves.
The laser weapon will be housed in a pod attached to a fighter-sized aircraft.
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LASER WEAPONS ‘COMING SOON’
Air Force bosses have boasted combat lasers will be fitted to fighters planes ‘very soon’ and have revealed a full scale prototype is being built.
‘I believe we’ll have a directed energy pod we can put on a fighter plane very soon,’ Air Force General Hawk Carlisle has claimed at the Air Force Association Air & Space conference in a presentation on what he called Fifth-Generation Warfare, according to Ars Technica.
‘That day is a lot closer than I think a lot of people think it is.’
The system will be tested on a tactical aircraft flying at speeds up to supersonic.
AFRL expects to begin flight testing the integrated system by 2019.
‘Northrop Grumman will help the U.S. Air Force mature its plans to use directed energy systems for self-protection on current and future aircraft under a contract awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory,’ the military contractor confirmed.
The contract calls for Northrop Grumman to develop and produce the beam control portion of an airborne laser weapon demonstration system that AFRL is developing under its Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) program.