Lockheed Martin has demonstrated a new prototype laser weapon system that is capable of targeted lethality against unmanned aerial vehicle threats.
The advent of flying drones coming on the market and into the modern world of combat has led to a new way to defend against these types of potential weapons.
Lockheed Martin’s 30-kilowatt Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) system brought down five 10.8-foot wingspan Outlaw unmanned aerial systems when tested by the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command last month.
The system, equipped with sensors, software and specialized optics, used beam control technology and a fiber laser to bring down the five Outlaw drones during the test.
"The tests at White Sands against aerial targets validated our lethality models and replicated the results we've seen against static targets at our own test range," says Keoki Jackson, CTO at Lockheed Martin. "As we mature the technology behind laser weapon systems, we're making the entire system more effective and moving closer to a laser weapon that will provide greater protection to our warfighters by taking on more sophisticated threats from a longer range."
ATHENA was able to defeat the drones in flight by causing loss of control and structural failure. The data from the test will be collected and used to further refine the system, improve model predictions and inform development of future laser systems.
The laser weapon system is a transportable, ground-based system that uses Lockheed Martin’s 30-kilowatt Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) providing greater efficiency and lethality in a design that scales to higher power levels, the company says.