Lockheed’s Turbulence-Taming Turret

Lockheed Martin has developed a prototype laser turret for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory that paves the way for lasers to be placed on tactical aircraft, according to an Oct. 15 company release. The Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control (ABC) laser turret is the first of its kind “to demonstrate a 360-degree field of regard for laser weapon systems on an aircraft flying near the speed of sound,” states the release. Typically, turbulence causes concentrated laser beams to become diffuse, restricting laser turrets mounted on high-speed aircraft to fire only at targets straight ahead. A combination of aerodynamic and flow control technology, coupled with deformable mirrors, allows the laser beam to travel in any direction without being scattered. “This advanced turret design will enable tactical aircraft to have the same laser weapon system advantages as ground vehicles and ships,” said Doug Graham, vice president of missile systems and advanced programs for Lockheed Martin’s Strategic and Missile Defense Systems?. The turret design has already been tested in roughly 60 flight tests conducted in 2014 and 2015, states the release.