- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2017

The U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin plan to test a record-breaking laser weapon within months.

Lockheed Martin made national headlines in June 2015 when its 30-kilowatt ATHENA laser weapon destroyed a truck “within minutes.” The Maryland-based company announced a 58-kilowatt milestone on Thursday, which is good news as researchers prepare to implement the technology into the Army’s High Energy Laser Mobile Test Truck (HELMTT).

Robert Afzal, a senior fellow for laser and sensor systems at Lockheed, told Defense One on Thursday that HELMTT testing will commence within months.

“It’s an important breakthrough for solid-state, combined-beam fiber lasers,” the website reported. “Unlike the chemical lasers that the military was experimenting with decades ago, solid-state lasers require no volatile chemicals to produce high-powered beams. A combined-beam fiber laser operates a bit like a prism, pulling together different beams of light and squishing them into one. The more fiber optics you add, the more energy you get out the other end.”

If all goes according to plan, the U.S. Army says the weapon will reach 60-kilowatts of direct power during its evaluation.

Mr. Afzal noted that future iterations of the technology may allow the Pentagon to incorporate it into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“The core of this technology, and our demo validates this, this technology is scalable. We can go up or down in power, go smaller or larger,” Mr. Afzal said.

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