In three years the US military could have a prototype laser weapon blasting out 300 kilowatts of energy, a jump that could ignite a revolution in missile defense, a Lockheed Martin engineer told me today,
A 300-kw laser could kill cruise missiles. For comparison, that’s 10 times the power output of the Laser Weapons System (LaWS) currently being field-tested aboard ship in the Persian Gulf. LaWS can shoot down slow-moving drones at relatively short ranges.
Lockheed Martin is currently on contract to upgrade the Army’s High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) from its current 10 kilowatt output to 60 kw, with delivery sometime late next year. But Lockheed senior fellow Rob Afzal wants to go beyond 60 kw.
“We believe that system itself can go to 100,” he told reporters this afternoon at Lockheed Martin’s annual media day. “We think that, with today’s technology, fiber lasers will scale to 300, arguably beyond 300.” With future improvements in the underlying laser technologies, he said, “we think we can get well beyond 500 kw.”