(By Tony Sestito) – For years, lasers have been in many modern devices, from car CD players to those little pointers that you annoy your cat with. But up until recently, laser weapons were the stuff of Science Fiction and the 30-minute toy commercials we called cartoons growing up. Enter the Lockheed Martin Advanced Test High Energy Asset, or ATHENA for short.
Earlier this week, Lockheed Martin issued a press release where they shot this thing at a very unfortunate 1992-96 Ford F-150. Within seconds, the 30-kilowatt laser penetrated the hood and melted right through the intake manifold FROM A MILE AWAY! This is the real deal and it goes right along with some of the other crazy laser weapon stories that have been coming out over the last few years. Remember the 747 with the big laser in it that can shoot down missiles and stuff? While we have no idea if this machine uses the same technology as that one, it is impressive nonetheless. Being able to melt a hood and intake manifold from a mile away in seconds means that if a person was in the way….well thankfully a person was not in the way.
Lockheed Martin wants to mount its “Asset” to ships, aircraft, and land-going military vehicles. So my question to all of you Bangshift readers is this: What would YOU mount this thing to?
Here’s the full release from Lockheed Martin –
BETHESDA, Md., March 3, 2015 – Lockheed Martin’s [NYSE: LMT] 30-kilowatt fiber laser weapon system successfully disabled the engine of a small truck during a recent field test, demonstrating the rapidly evolving precision capability to protect military forces and critical infrastructure.
Known as ATHENA, for Advanced Test High Energy Asset, the ground-based prototype system burned through the engine manifold in a matter of seconds from more than a mile away. The truck was mounted on a test platform with its engine and drive train running to simulate an operationally-relevant test scenario.
“Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems,” said Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin chief technology officer. “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 marked the first field testing of an integrated 30-kilowatt, single-mode fiber laser weapon system prototype. Through a technique called spectral beam combining, multiple fiber laser modules form a single, powerful, high-quality beam that provides greater efficiency and lethality than multiple individual 10-kilowatt lasers used in other systems.
ATHENA is based on the Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) laser weapon system developed by Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, California, which has been proven in demonstrations against small airborne and sea-based targets. It incorporates the 30-kilowatt Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) fiber laser developed by the company in Bothell, Washington.