The fighters with combat lasers will go into service in 2021
New weapon systems for combat aircraft based on lasers have been developed for a long time. Even during the Cold War, the first attempts were made to create such aircraft. But only now, within the framework of the SHIELD (Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator) program, funded by the US Air Force, Lockheed Martin will present the first samples of a powerful and yet compact laser weapon that can be installed on fighter planes by 2021.
It should be noted that Lockheed Martin this year tested the ATHENA portable ground-based laser unit with a capacity of 30 kilowatts. The installation successfully destroyed 5 Outlaw unmanned aerial vehicles with a wingspan of 3.3 meters. The onboard laser created within the framework of the SHiELD program will be developed on the basis of this portable laser. It will be installed on a special STRAFE turret (SHiELD Turret Research in Aero Effects), which can hold a focused laser beam at a certain point of the target being attacked. High-capacitive batteries will be used to power the laser. As Martin Lockheed, an expert in laser armament, Rob Afzal,
“This year we have already manufactured several 60-kilowatt laser systems. Now we are faced with a more interesting and difficult task – to write such a laser installation into the frames available for use on a fighter plane. It is worth noting that our technology already allows the use of laser weapons on ships and land vehicles. It remains only to refine the technology so that it could be used on fighter jets too. “