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Weapon Wednesday – Laser Weapon for Fighter Aircraft

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Lockheed Martin is helping the Air Force Research Lab develop and mature high energy laser weapon...
Lockheed Martin is helping the Air Force Research Lab develop and mature high energy laser weapon systems, including the high energy laser pictured in this rendering(Credit: Air Force Research Lab)

In a move that could revolutionize aerial combat, the US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) has awarded Lockheed Martin a US$26.3 million contract to design, develop, and produce a high-power laser weapon that the AFRL wants to install and test on a tactical fighter jet by 2021. The new test weapon is part of the AFRL Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program tasked with developing airborne laser systems.

Airborne laser weapons are nothing new. Experimental lasers mounted on aircraft date back to the US Strategic Defense Initiative of the 1980s, but producing a practical weapon system has proven difficult. Previous attempts have resulted in dodgy chemical laser weapons so bulky that they had to be mounted in a 747, but the development of solid state fiber optic lasers is starting to change the game.

 Earlier this year, Lockheed’s ground-based ATHENA system shot down five 10.8-ft (3.3-m) wingspan Outlaw drones by focusing its 30-kW Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) laser at their stern control surfaces until they burned off, sending them crashing into the desert floor. These compact lasers consist of fiber laser modules where the active gain medium is made of an optical fiber doped with a rare-earth element like erbium, ytterbium, or neodymium. The optical fibers are flexible, so the laser can be thousands of meters long while taking up very little space.

About the Common Constitutionalist

Brent, aka The Common Constitutionalist, is a Constitutional Conservative, and advocates for first principles, founders original intent and enemy of progressives. He is former Navy, Martial Arts expert. As well as publisher of the Common Constitutionalist blog, he also is a contributing writer for Political Outcast, Godfather Politics, Minute Men News (Liberty Alliance), Freedom Outpost, the Daily Caller, Vision To America and Free Republic. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for World Net Daily (WND).

One comment on “Weapon Wednesday – Laser Weapon for Fighter Aircraft

  1. Pingback: Weapon Wednesday – Laser Weapon for Fighter Aircraft – USSA News | The Tea Party's Front Page

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