Lockheed Martin has deployed a 30kW fibre laser weapon to disable the engine of a truck.
Dubbed ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset) the ground-based prototype is said to have quickly burned through the engine manifold from over a mile away.
The truck was mounted on a test platform with its engine and drive train running to simulate what Lockheed Martin describes as ‘an operationally-relevant test scenario’.
In a statement, Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin chief technology officer said: ‘Fibre-optic lasers are revolutionising directed energy systems.
‘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 demonstration is said to have marked the first field-testing of an integrated 30kW, single-mode fibre laser weapon system prototype. Through spectral beam combining, multiple fibre laser modules form a single, powerful, high-quality beam that provides greater efficiency and destructiveness than multiple individual 10kW lasers used in other systems.
ATHENA is based on the Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) laser weapon system developed by Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, California, which has been proven in demonstrations against small airborne and sea-based targets. It incorporates the 30kW Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) fibre laser developed by the company in Bothell, Washington.
See our 2014 interview with Lockheed technology chief Dr Ray O Johnson for more on laser weapons