Lockheed Martin has delivered a tactically-relevant electric 300 kW-class laser to the US Army. This laser will be put onto a heavy military truck. It is the most powerful laser that Lockheed Martin has produced to date. This 300 kW-class laser is ready to integrate with the DOD demonstration efforts including the U.S. Army’s Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL) Demonstrator laser weapon system.
300 kilowatt combat lasers will be effective against most short range missiles, large drones and planes. The weaker 5-100 kilowatt combat lasers have been tested against mortars and drones.
Combat lasers would be an improvement over missile based systems because of the lower cost per shot. The lasers could be fired for about $1-5 per shot for the cost of the energy and the wear and tear on the system. A well maintained laser and power source could fire tens of thousands of times versus a large truck loaded with perhaps dozens to a hundred missiles that cost $10k-100k a piece to fire.
The OUSD (R&E) selected Lockheed Martin in 2019 to scale its spectral beam combined high energy laser architecture to the 300 kW-class level as part of the High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative (HELSI), and the team recently achieved that milestone ahead of schedule.
“Lockheed Martin increased the power and efficiency and reduced the weight and volume of continuous-wave high energy lasers which reduces risk for future fielding efforts of high power laser weapon systems,” said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions.
The HELSI laser will support demonstration efforts with the Army’s IFPC-HEL, which is scheduled for laboratory and field testing this year.
SOURCES- Lockheed Martin, Congressional Report on Lasers, Air Force, Navy and Army Laser Reports
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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24 thoughts on “Lockheed Martin Delivers 300 Kilowatt Combat Laser”
Pure laser particle beam
If you cover the drones, missiles, etc with a reflective material, with a reflectiveness of around 98% circa the laser wavelenght, this equals the laser as a 6 Kw one. If the matereial is covered also with a thin ablative transparent layer, this will null its effectiveness.
If the surface is clean.
If the surface is dirty, it become a problem
The highly reflective and ablative surface makes it more visible on radar and adds weight.
Which is makes it more vulnerable to conventional weapons.
A 100kw laser can intercept short range rockets as well. The US has the ability to build such an able system for a few years. Yet there is no hurry in this country to put critical new technologies to final design and production.
I have a few questions if anyone can answer:
1. Whats the pulse duration? as energy = power*time?
2. I Assume they use multiple parallel lasers, do they direct the beams to marge at a single point at the target distance or the combine them to a single beam at the source?
3. Whats the distance they can keep the beam focused, through air disturbances?
I doubt this weapon can work reliably in all weather conditions. Laser beams suffer serious problems when weather is not ideal.
Random statement? No, not really. Any laser above a few watts of output is cooled.
Over 1kW I suppose the beam create its own path in fog and clouds.
First, Brian, please fix the posting here. It’s becoming intolerable to use.
The diode arrays used in this system are obviously above and beyond what’s available commercially, both efficiency wise and output-wise. As an example, a common diode bar design used in various Coherent laser systems utilizes a design that dates back to roughly 1997. The first examples produced 3 watts in that package. The latest examples produce over 50 watts, in the same physical package. These are garden variety bars used in various vanadate lasers as pump sources. Output is 808 nm, ~2.5 volts at 34 amps. Stack enough of these together, collimate the beam from all the emitters, and you get a ‘big’ laser. That’s what you’re looking at here. A large array of stacked diode bars.
Solid state diode power has climbed immensely in the last twenty years. Stack enough bars, have the right corrective optics to collect and collimate from all the emitters, and you have yourself a nice, powerful laser. Just as an example, a certain model of commercialized diode I’ve worked with in certain Coherent model lasers, ever improved from their 1999 debut, develops 50 watts of 808 nm at 2.5 volts, pulling about 34 amps. That’s greater than 50% efficiency. I’m sure these are even better.
Can bring a liter of water from room temperature to boiling in 1 second.
Fast response coffee machine! At last a practical application.
Does anyone have specs on range and destructive capabilities? Weight? Accuracy while vehicle is in motion?
Does it operate off of a battery or from an electric engine powered by fossil fuels?
Either, quite easily. Does it matter in the end?
It gets even more interesting when you can use lasers to generate EMP at the point where it impacts the target:
“The intensity of the laser pulse can also accelerate electrons outward from the impact point at high speed. This rapid movement generates an electromagnetic pulse or EMP. This can be a problem in the laboratory when laser-generated EMP disturbs measuring instruments. On the battlefield a powerful EMP, or a series of them, might bring down drones, missiles or even aircraft. The EMP is generated right at the surface of the target rather than some distance away, as EMP effectiveness falls off with the square of distance.”
It will be interesting to see if the complexities and expenses of these systems affect the economics of them.
It has been educational to see how things like Javelins and MANPADs and drones, while not replacing or making redundant things like tanks and jets, can alter how much of one’s budget one uses on them. Drones might not replace jets but if you can do some of the tasks of a jet for a fraction of the cost it makes sense to buy a few fewer jets and a few hundred more drones for the same price.
If a laser weapon can do a task better than something else without breaking the budget they will proliferate but just because you can build something as a proof of concept doesn’t mean it will be a success economically.
Would be interesting to revisit the ABL but with multiple solid state lasers. COIL was powerful but obviously not the direction the technology was going. Would be handy to have an ABL loitering above a carrier group swatting the missiles away.
Emitter needs to be on a telescoping mount so it can peek above trees. Line of sight is obviously an issue.
Also it could be anti-helicopter in that it can cause side mounted munitions to spontaneously combust (to say nothing about the meat bags in the cockpit).
Hmm – at 300kW, maybe it can clear its own line of sight? 🙂
So by “continuous wave” they mean that this is a heat ray, correct? I wonder how much more work would it take to turn this into a blaster-type.
Way too much TV for you, This is real world, not fantasy.
Oh? Please explain. How is pulsing the laser not a better use of the energy available?
Maybe you’re being prejudiced by terms like “blaster” and “heat ray.” But the underlying physics are real: a continuous-wave laser will spend most of its energy fighting the plasma it is generating from the skin of the artifact it is trying to kill; if it is pulsed, the plasma has time to get out of the way and more energy can be spent on destroying the target. It’s not possible that LM doesn’t know any of this; if they do not, the Armed Forces certainly do.
Also, please try not to be pointlessly condescending. We’re trying to have a serious conversation, here.
Going to the LM website they have some videos that make it look like a heat ray to me.
Burning through a toyota in seconds, not causing explosive punctures.
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