Scalable Laser Weapon Enters Production

Lockheed Martin is launching production of a modular, high-energy laser weapon that can be scaled up or down to arm a variety of air, land, and sea-based platforms, the company announced. Air Force Special Operations Command plans to arm the next-generation AC-130J Ghostrider gunship with a similar weapon to defend the aircraft against surface-to-air threats and take-out hardened ground targets. The company’s 30-kilowatt demonstrator, known as ATHENA, or Advanced Test High Energy Asset, successfully disabled a truck target from standoff range earlier this year. Continued development of the concept is aimed at developing a ?”lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships, and trucks,” company chief technologist Keoki Jackson said in an earlier release. Lockheed Martin’s initial production units will be 60-kilowatt units to equip Army ground vehicles. Fiber modules can be added to enhance weapon potency, or removed to cut the weight of potential airborne systems, according to the company. The Air Force has already set an AC-130W airframe aside for use in testing concept fiber lasers for potential addition to the AC-130J.