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Lockheed Martin this week used a laser to obliterate the engine of a small truck from more than a mile away.|
The company used its 30-kilowatt fiber weapon system known as ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset). The ground-based laser prototype burned through the engine manifold of a mounted truck in mere seconds. The vehicle, hoisted onto a test platform, was running its engine and drive train, simulating a real-life military scenario.
"Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems," Lockheed Martin CTO Keoki Jackson said in a statement. "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."
Tuesday's demonstration marked the first field testing of an integrated 30-kilowatt, single-mode fiber laser weapon system prototype, according to the Maryland-based company.
Lockheed Martin developed the "spectral beam combining" technique, which uses multiple fiber laser modules to form a single, high-quality beam. A beam which, as established this week, packs more of a punch than the bundle of 10-kilowatt lasers used in other systems.
"This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks," Jackson said.
ATHENA is based on the Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) laser weapon system, which has been used against small airborne and sea-based targets.
The company last year partnered with the U.S. military in an effort to develop self-driving convoys as part of the Army and Marine Corps' Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) program.