ATHENA laser testbed system successfully shoots down drones

Lockheed Martin has successfully used a 30 kilowatt laser to bring down drones during tests in August.
By Stephen Carlson  |  Sept. 20, 2017 at 3:50 PM
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Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has successfully used a 30 kilowatt laser to bring down drones during tests in August, the company announced on Wednesday.

During test operations with the U.S. Army's Space and Missile Defense Command, a ATHENA laser system brought down five Outlaw unmanned aerial vehicles at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

"The tests at White Sands against aerial targets validated our lethality models and replicated the results we've seen against static targets at our own test range," Lockheed Martin's Chief Technology Officer Keoki Jackson said in a press release.

"As we mature the technology behind laser weapon systems, we're making the entire system more effective and moving closer to a laser weapon that will provide greater protection to our warfighters by taking on more sophisticated threats from a longer range," Jackson said.

ATHENA is a ground-transportable fiber laser that is currently being used as a test-bed for future technology. It is part of Lockheed's Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative for developing higher powered lasers for battlefield use.

The U.S. Department of Defense has invested heavily in laser technology for precision targeting of enemy indirect fire, improvised explosive devices, drones, missiles and aircraft. Lasers, alongside other high-tech weapon systems like railguns, are expected to be the next stage in warfare.

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