Lockheed Martin is slated to start construction of a new-generation of modular high-power lasers this month for use by the US Army.
Manufactured at the company’s facility in Bothell, Washington, US, the fibre modules laser incorporates multiple commercial fibre laser components into easily reproduced modules to generate an intense laser beam.
The modular design of the laser will allow the laser power to be varied across an extremely wide range according to the requirements of a specific mission and threat.
Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training Laser Sensors and Systems business development lead Iain Mckinnie said: "A robust laser system with minimal operational down-time results from the integration of modular fibre-based lasers.
"With modular lasers, the possibility of a complete system failure due to a single-point disruption is dramatically lessened. Production is also affordable due to the ease of reproducing module components."
The layered approach of the laser, which can be easily operated by a single person, is said to reduce the chance for mission disruption as a result of a component failure, whilst also minimising the need for frequent maintenance or repair.
The first laser to be built by the company using the modular technique will be a 60kW system for a US Army vehicle.
According to the company, the army also has the option to add more modules and increase power from 60kW to 120kW due to the laser’s modularity.
Designed to provide a compliment to traditional kinetic weapons in the battlefield, the laser weapons are likely to offer reliable protection against threats, such as swarms of drones or large numbers of rockets and mortars, in the future.
Specialising in laser weapon system development for more than 40 years, Lockheed made advances in precision pointing and control, line-of-sight stabilisation, and adaptive optics and in fibre laser devices using spectral beam combining.
During a recent testing, the company used a 30kW laser weapon, called advanced test high energy asset, to disable a truck.