Lockheed Completes Laser for US Army

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Lockheed Martin has completed the design, development and demonstration of a 60 kilowatt (kW) beam combined laser for its US Army Space and Missile Defence Command (SMDC) customer.

In testing earlier this March, Lockheed Martin produced a single beam of 58 kW power, making it “the most powerful and lethal of this type that has yet been demonstrated,” James Murdoch, a company director of international business development, told asianmilitaryreview.com. The army customer expects to receive the new laser to integrate on its High Energy Laser Mobile Test Truck. Mr. Murdoch added that the laser “will probably be shipped” to the Huntsville, Alabama-based Space and Missile Defence Acquisition Centre “in mid-May.”

Mr. Murdoch highlighted two technology challenges in his company’s military laser designs: efficiency and combining individual beams. The industry team is categorizing this laser, in terms of the efficiency of electrical power coming into the device and leaving as laser power, as “very efficient.” So, whereas about 150kW of power enters this system, about 43% of that electrical energy comes out as light: “That, in our view, is a very high efficiency. When you think about it, what electrical power goes in and doesn’t come out as laser energy comes out wasted as heat,” Mr. Murdoch emphasised.

Lockheed Martin also seeks to make its lasers precise, combining a system’s beams to allow: “the very focus of the laser beam itself to really concentrate its energy on a target,” to have the intended effect (destruction and incapacitation, for example). While Mr. Murdoch did not discuss in entirety the targets which this 60kW laser was designed to counter, he noted that one target was a mortar round.