Lockheed Martin announced on Thursday their intentions to deliver a 60 kW beam combined fiber laser to the U.S. Army in the coming months. The military itself has been testing vehicle-mounted laser weapons with promising results.
Space and Missile Defense Command said on Friday its Mobile Expeditionary High Energy Laser 2.0 – or MEHEL 2.0 for short – had outperformed the expectations of army officials in real-world tests in New Mexico.
Both weapons are landmark developments in the field of laser-based weaponry. This technology has been the subject of extensive research for its potential use in armed conflict for its low cost, high accuracy, and effectiveness in disabling remote targets.
Lockheed Martin has developed the most powerful laser to date
The weapon maker Lockheed Martin has been working closely with the U.S. Army divisions in charge of developing laser technology.
Together, they have created what is known as a combined fiber laser system capable of shooting 60 kW beams, the most powerful ever registered for military use. During tests earlier this month, the weapon produced a record-breaking 58 kW beam.
Lockheed Martin’s system is not only innovative for its potential destructive power but also for its scalability and cost-effectiveness. What the model the company will deliver to the U.S. Army is, theoretically, easily expandable by adding more modules.
It is a combined fiber laser system precisely because it comprises multiple fiber-optic lasers that work together to produce beams that can take down communication systems and disable engines remotely in record time.
Lasers travel at the speed of light and are invisible to the human eye. Both the Army’s and the weapon maker’s systems rely on electricity to generate these highly destructive rays.
The Army is making more and more innovative weapons
“WE HAVE SHOWN THAT A POWERFUL DIRECTED LASER IS NOW SUFFICIENTLY LIGHTWEIGHT, LOW VOLUME, AND RELIABLE ENOUGH TO BE DEPLOYED ON TACTICAL VEHICLES FOR DEFENSIVE APPLICATIONS ON LAND, AT SEA AND IN THE AIR,” said Army laser specialist Robert Afzal.
Although it only delivers a fraction of the power of Lockheed Martin’s weapon, the 5 kW MEHEL 2.0 also represents a major milestone for the military in developing mobile laser systems.
The portability of this turret gun makes it particularly useful for army vehicles like trucks, tanks, and even ships. The U.S. already has a similar weapon onboard some ships currently at sea.
What’s more, it packs a punch strong enough to take down drones, helicopters, and other military aircraft. Using a radar system, the MEHEL 2.0 can even be automated to shoot at targets that come up within range.
Source: Lockheed Martin