ATHENA system

Lockheed Martin has demonstrated the ability of its new 30kW fibre laser weapon system to safeguard military forces and critical infrastructure during a field trial at an undisclosed location.

During the testing, the ground-based prototype system, dubbed advanced test high energy asset (ATHENA), successfully disabled the engine of a small truck within few seconds from more than a mile away.

The truck was mounted on a test platform with its engine and drive train running to replicate an operationally-relevant test scenario.

Lockheed Martin chief technology officer Keoki Jackson said: "Fibre-optic lasers are revolutionising directed energy systems.

"Fibre-optic lasers are revolutionising directed energy systems."

"We are investing in every component of the system; from the optics and beam control to the laser itself, to drive size, weight and power efficiencies.

"This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships, and trucks."

The demonstration represents the first field testing of an integrated 30kW, single-mode fibre laser weapon system prototype, which combines multiple fibre laser modules through a technique called spectral beam combining to form a single, powerful, high-quality beam.

This offers greater efficiency and lethality than the multiple individual 10kW lasers used in other systems.

ATHENA is based on Lockheed’s area defence anti-munitions (ADAM) laser weapon system. It incorporates the 30kW accelerated laser demonstration initiative (ALADIN) fibre laser developed by the company in Bothell, Washington, US.

ADAM is equipped with a 10kW fibre laser. It is a portable, ground-based laser system designed to safeguard military high-value installations, including forward-operating bases against a wide range of close-in improvised rockets and unmanned aerial system threats.

The laser is manufactured at Lockheed’s facility in Sunnyvale, California. It has already proven its efficacy in demonstrations against a range of small airborne and sea-based targets.

Image: The 30kW ATHENA laser weapon system defeated a small truck by disabling its engine. Photo: courtesy of Lookheed Martin.