The U.S. Air Force will this summer begin testing a laser that will be mounted on an F-15 warplane, an official said Monday.
The Pentagon last year awarded a $26 million contract to Lockheed Martin for a laser program called SHiELD (Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator).
The idea is to put a laser system on aircraft with an output of about 50 kw to test their ability to zap drones or cruise missiles.
“We have got tests starting this summer and the flight tests next summer,” Jeff Stanley, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for science, technology and engineering, told reporters.
“There are still some technical challenges that we have to overcome, mainly size, weight, power.”
Military laser beams are invisible to the naked eye.
By focusing a beam on a target, the technology rapidly heats it up inside, causing it to crash or explode.
Global Security reports that in 2016, the US Air Force ordered the development of a laser protection system for fighters from Northrop Grumman, the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD). According to portal flightglobal.com, combat lasers for aircraft will also be developed by Lockheed Martin.
Within the framework of the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program for fighters of the US Air Force, it is planned to create a laser system capable of destroying missiles in the air. The US Air Force Research Laboratory has signed a development contract with Northrop Grumman.
Representatives of Lockheed Martin say that the corporation has already accumulated sufficient experience with laser systems to create laser protection for combat aircraft.
The installation will consist of three key elements: an aiming, cooling and powering system, as well as a solid-state laser.Modern technologies allow fighters to evade missiles fired on them, using electronic warfare systems or heat traps. The command of the US Air Force considers these methods of “self-defense” inadequate and plans to equip combat aircraft with systems that will not “deceive” but destroy missiles at a safe distance, hitting them with a laser beam.
It is planned to install SHiELD on the fourth-generation fighters, in particular, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and Lockheed Martin 16 Fighting Falcon. In this case, the fifth generation Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II aircraft are not yet planned to be equipped with additional protection systems, since the suspension modules increase their radar visibility.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 20th, 2018