It's been the mythical weapon of the future for decades, but now it looks like science is finally catching up to the fiction when it comes to lasers.
Defense tech firm Lockheed Martin has been working on the 30-kilowatt fiber laser weapon system Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) for a while now, and the latest field test showed that this thing can definitely do some major damage. Previous tests have seen the tech melt the side of a boat and take a drone out of the sky. But this might be the most impressive.
Long story short: From approximately one mile away, ATHENA was able to burn through and destroy the engine of a pickup truck in a matter of seconds. According to Lockheed Martin, the successful test shows the technology's potential for extreme precision as a defense tool to "protect military forces and critical infrastructure." It also shows they've developed a real-life death ray, which is both extremely cool and extremely terrifying.
"Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems," Lockheed Martin chief technology officer Keoki Jackson said. "We are investing in every component of the system – from the optics and beam control to the laser itself – to drive size, weight and power efficiencies. This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks."
The company notes that the field test utilized an integrated 30-kilowatt, single-mode fiber laser weapon system prototype. The weapon combines multiple fiber laser modules to form a single powerful beam that provides "greater efficiency and lethality" than multiple individual 10-kilowatt lasers used in other systems. It seriously sounds like something out of science fiction, but in a few years we could almost certainly have real-life laser weapons in real-world use.
Welcome to the future ... just watch out for lasers.
(Via Lockheed Martin)