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Lockheed Martin designs future U.S. Army laser vehicle

By Ryan Maass
Lockheed Martin designs future U.S. Army laser vehicle
Lockheed Martin says it is closer to delivering the future 60kW Beam Combined Fiber Laser solution to the U.S. Army. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

March 16 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has completed its designs, development and demonstrations for a 60 kW-class laser defense system to be delivered to the U.S. Army.

The system is a vehicle-mounted platform to be used to defend ground-based assets against unmanned aerial vehicles and artillery attacks such as mortar fire and rockets. Lockheed Martin's latest design for the solution was based on earlier concepts conceived under the U.S. Department of Defense's Robust Electric Laser Initiative.

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Lockheed Martin's announcement comes roughly a month after a round of testing for the laser system. Company officials say they have reached a milestone putting them one step closer to delivery.

"Delivery of this laser represents an important milestone along the path to fielding a practical laser weapon system," Lockheed Martin's Paula Hartley said.

The laser is a combined beam of fiber laser and other individual beams generated through fiber optics, a process the product's manufacturers say creates a more intense and powerful beam.

"The inherent scalability of this beam combined laser system has allowed us to build the first 60kW-class fiber laser for the U.S. Army," Laser and Sensor Systems senior fellow Dr. Robert Afzal explained. "We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air."

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Afzal went on to add the beam is near "diffraction limited," suggesting the defense system is close to the physical limits of lasers being concentrated through a single point.

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