A 60-kW combined-fiber laser has been developed by Lockheed Martin, and now will be delivered to the U.S. Army, for evaluation as a defensive weapon for deployment on tactical vehicles. Lockheed designed and demonstrated the system, and reported that in recent testing it produced a single beam of 58 kW, representing a world record for a laser of this type.
The 60-kW-class system laser is based on a design developed under the Department of Defense's Robust Electric Laser Initiative Program, and developed further by Lockheed Martin.
The developer added that its team met all contractual deliverables for the laser system, and will deliver it to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Ala.
According to Lockheed, laser-based weapons will compliment more traditional weapons systems, offering protection against threats like drones, rockets, and mortars. It previously demonstrated a 30-kW fiber-laser weapon, disabling a vehicle from over a mile’s distance.
"The inherent scalability of this beam combined laser system has allowed us to build the first 60-kW class fiber laser for the U.S. Army," according to Robert Afzal, Ph.D., Lockheed senior fellow for Laser and Sensor Systems. "We have shown that a powerful, directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume, and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air."
Lockheed Martin has been developing laser weapon systems for over 40 years, and claims advances in precision pointing and control, line-of-sight stabilization, and adaptive optics (all essential for harnessing and directing the power of a laser beam); and in fiber laser devices that spectral beam combining.
"Delivery of this laser represents an important milestone along the path to fielding a practical laser weapon system," stated Paula Hartley, vice president and general manager and Advanced Product Solutions in Oswego, N.Y., part of Lockheed Martin's Cyber, Ships & Advanced Technologies business.
A “beam combined fiber laser” is a single, intense laser beam generated by combining individual lasers generated through fiber optics. This makes it possible to create a scalable laser system that can be made more powerful by adding more fiber laser subunits.
"This milestone could not have been achieved without close partnership between the U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin,” Hartley added.
Lockheed indicated it plans to develop a series of laser weapon systems of various power levels, customized to address different tactical missions for sea, air, and ground platforms.