Lockheed Martin developing laser weapon for United States fighter jets

LOCKHEED MARTINLockheed Martin will create laser-fitted fighter jets

LOCKHEED MARTINLockheed Martin will create laser-fitted fighter jets

According to Popular Mechanics, the aircraft most likely to be armed with the laser, assuming it's successfully tested and produced, will be older fighters jets that are more vulnerable in the air - such as the F-15C, the F-15E Strike Eagle, and F-16 Fighting Falcon.

November 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) $26.3 million for the design, development and production of a high power fiber laser.

Lockheed spokeswoman Kate Scruggs told Business Insider that its weapon will be "used for self-defense against ground-to-air and air-to-air weapons". The new test weapon is part of the AFRL Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program tasked with developing airborne laser systems.

"Lockheed Martin continues to rapidly advance laser weapon systems and the technologies that make them possible", senior fellow of laser weapon systems Rob Afzal said in a press release.

That stands for "Laser Advancements for Next-Generation Compact Environment".

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. "It's exciting to see this technology mature enough to embed in an aircraft", said Afzal. "The development of high power laser systems like SHiELD shows laser weapon system technologies are becoming real".

No one is saying that the Air Force is secretly building a squadron of starfighters, but if I were getting ready for a war amongst the stars, lasers would be a big piece of the puzzle.

The defense contractor's product will work in conjunction with a beam-control system developed by Northrop Grumman and a pod created by Boeing, UPI reported.

The military is hoping to test a system on a tactical fighter jet by 2021.

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