Can the US military build Star Wars-style laser cannons for its troops?
It seems everyone is getting inspired by the latest “Star Wars” movie and that includes the military.
American companies are developing laser systems for the aircraft, drones, vehicles and even boats for U.S. troops. And while they may not match the cool beams of light seen from those “Star Wars” laser cannons, they can do plenty of damage.
Here is a look at a few of the systems under development:
The Drone Slaying Laser
Boeing is developing a laser cannon designed to destroy drones. Called the Compact Laser Weapon System, it is a lighter, smaller, easily transportable version of Boeing’s powerful High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator.
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In August, Boeing demonstrated what the tech could do. With precision, this laser burns a hole in the drone, forcing it to crash.
Lockheed Martin has been testing a laser turret for fighter jets that fly near the speed of sound. With the 360-degree turret mounted on aircraft, the laser can fire in any direction.
So far, the laser has been tested on about 60 flights over the past two years. Lockheed Martin has been developing the aircraft laser for DARPA and the Air Force Research Laboratory.
The challenge is developing a system that can crack what is called counteracting atmospheric turbulence.
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Turbulence can scatter the light particles, making the laser ineffective. To minimize this turbulence and deliver an effective beam, the design harnesses state-of-the-art aerodynamic and flow-control technology. An optical compensation system with mirrors helps the beam penetrate the atmosphere and get on target.
Hellhound Vehicle with Mounted Laser
A new military vehicle equipped with a laser weapon was revealed by Northrop Grumman this October.
Dubbed the Hellhound, the reconnaissance ATV carries six warfighters – plus a laser weapon.
It weighs in at about six-and-half tons and will be able to produce 100 kVA of power that can be supplied to radios and other gear. It is also enough power to run installations like a field hospital or command center.
The 10-kilowatt solid-state fiber laser is optional.
ADAM Lasers Blasting Boats
ADAM, or is Area Defense Anti-Munitions, is a laser weapon system designed to take out threats at sea. This is a 30-kilowatt, single-mode fiber laser weapon system.
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Made by Lockheed Martin, ADAM took out two boats at a range of about a mile way in a May field test. It can track and blast targets up to about three miles away and was able to burn through rubber hulls of the military grade boats in 30 seconds.
ADAM also previously proved successful at taking out targets in flight as well. Its laser beam blasted targets like drones and rockets.