Lockheed Martin receives contract to develop laser weapons for United States fighter jets

Lockheed Martin receives contract to develop laser weapons for United States fighter jets

We may not live in a Star Wars-esque age of light speed travel and Death Stars, but that isn't stopping the USA military from turning its jet fighters into laser-firing weapons from the future.

November 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) $26.3 million for the design, development and production of a high power fiber laser.

The focus on laser weapons has two main goals for the USA military, and it's not just about offensive strikes. The order of 26.3 billion.

A string of successful tests involving laser weapons on the USS Ponce, Apache helicopters, and other military equipment bode well for the Pentagon as the Air Force moves ahead with its Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator program (SHiELD).

Under a $26.3 million contract from the Air Force Research Lab, the firm will design and produce a directed energy system for aircraft, with plans to test the technology by 2021.

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"Earlier this year, we delivered a 60 kW-class laser to be installed on a U.S. Army ground vehicle". If successfully developed, the new technology will allow the US Air Force to take out surface-to-air and air-to-air missile threats in a more convenient way than the existing intercept methods.

"It's exciting to see this technology mature enough to embed in an aircraft", Afzal said.

Lockheed Martin is focusing on fiber laser technology for its development of the airborne laser weapons, utilizing a technique it calls "spectral beam combining" to fuse the outputs of as many as 100 different lasers into a single, powerful beam.

Past performance shows Lockheed has demonstrated a steady increase in laser power while decreasing the size, weight and power of its systems. The fighter jet, which will eventually carry the laser weapon, is also unknown.

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