Economy

Lockheed Martin receives $26.3mn contract to develop airborne laser weaponry

Lockheed Martin receives $26.3mn contract to develop airborne laser weaponry”

Lockheed Martin has been awarded $26m by the United States government's Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) to develop a high-power fibre laser that will be tested on a fighter jet by 2021.

AFRL, which says that it plans to test the laser by 2021, awarded the contract as part of its "Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD)" program, and describes the effort as a major step forward in the maturation of protective airborne laser systems.

AFRL's SHiELD program includes turret research, laser pod research and development, and laser advancements research (LANCE), with the program specifically aimed at developing advanced laser weaponry systems.

A new contract that seems to be ripped from Star Wars calls for Lockheed Martin to design, develop and produce a high-power fiber laser for the U.S. Air Force Research Lab.

Cost has always been an issue with laser weapons, but fiber lasers should be affordable because they leverage a very large technology base for fiber-optic communications and industrial lasers, says Rob Afzal, senior fellow of laser weapon systems at Lockheed.

Aside from the challenging space and weight constraints, the deployment on a fighter jet would require a laser weapon to operate at significantly longer stand-off distances than land- or ship-fielded systems, because of the much higher speeds involved. Experimental lasers mounted on aircraft date back to the US Strategic Defense Initiative of the 1980s, but producing a practical weapon system has proven hard.

In 2014, the Navy mounted and tested a laser on the USS Ponce.

"LANCE will represent the next generation of a compact design", Afzal says.

Earlier this year, Lockheed's ground-based ATHENA system shot down five 10.8-ft (3.3-m) wingspan Outlaw drones by focusing its 30-kW Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) laser at their stern control surfaces until they burned off, sending them crashing into the desert floor. The LANCE contract leverages technology building blocks from internal research and development projects, including the ATHENA system and ALADIN laser, as well as contract experience gained from programs such as the U.S. Army's Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) program. "It's exciting to see this technology mature enough to embed in an aircraft", said Afzal. "The technologies are ready to be produced, tested and deployed on aircraft, ground vehicles and ships".

It's not clear at this time how the laser will be used, but Lockheed spokesperson Kate Scruggs told Business Insider that "the only thing that's been said publicly is that it will be used for self-defense against ground-to-air and air-to-air weapons".

The US Air Force plans to test the weapon by 2021.

Lockheed, Northrop and Boeing are three of the largest defense contractors and political donors in the US.



Like this

Latest


08 November 2017
Leipzig rule out possibility of Naby Keita joining Liverpool in January
The 22-year-old has received three red cards during the campaign already - two for Leipzig, one while on worldwide duty with Guinea.

08 November 2017
AAP likely to name Raghuram Rajan as Rajya Sabha candidate
The move to not field any party leader to the Rajya Sabha is also seen as an attempt to put an end to the intra-party rivalry. Th state elects three members for the term of six years and indirectly elected by the state legislator.

08 November 2017
Queen should say sorry and be investigated over offshore cash - Corbyn
It was founded in Bermuda and has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere. A spokesman for the Duchy of Lancaster said: "We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds.

08 November 2017
Google pairs with Volkswagen
Such research will likely focus not only on supporting individual drivers, but also urban traffic planning as a whole. Quantum computers can solve certain highly complex tasks considerably faster than conventional supercomputers.

08 November 2017
Thackeray's meeting with Pawar shows Sena's frustration: BJP
Once a senior Sena leader, Rane quit the party after a fallout with Thackeray, taking along with him a group of MLAs. In a surprise political move, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has met NCP supremo Sharad Pawar in Mumbai .

08 November 2017
Airtel slumps 5.7% on stake sale by Qatari shareholder
Earlier today, reports said Qatar-based Three Pillars will offload its entire 5% holding in the company through block deals today. Major Gulf nations have cut diplomatic and transport relations with Qatar accusing it of backing terrorism.

08 November 2017
IL lawmakers pass legislation addressing sexual harassment
Rotheimer lodged a formal complaint against Silverstein with State Senate President John Cullerton's office November 30, 2016. Ending the week of veto session, Democrats and Republicans will hold a sexual harassment training for legislators as well.

08 November 2017
US trade with Japan 'not fair and open
The president tried to make the case this week that the US can negotiate better deals by working one on one with other countries. And with the president's love for fast food and golf well known, it seems Abe was intent at putting Trump at ease.

08 November 2017
Jack Cork called up to England squad as injury crisis deepens
Chelsea centre back Gary Cahill has reported for duty after being cleared to play by the Premier League side's medical team. England's options have already taken a blow this week after losing Tottenham stars Harry Kane , Dele Alli and Harry Winks .

08 November 2017
British minister sacked over misconduct found mysteriously dead
Following his death, politicians and fellow party members paid their tributes and expressed their "shock" at the news. British media reported he had died by suicide.



Recommended