There’s two things you should know about me: (1) I can bend the fingers on my left hand all the way backwards so that they touch the top of my hand. It’s gross, but I’m double jointed on that hand and as a child it was an easy way to gross out adults. (2) I love me some frickin’ laser beams.
There are far too many reasons to name for why I love lasers, but one beautiful thing about militarized lasers are they’re cheap to fire in comparison to artillery, and they can be fired at a target from extremely far distances. Therefore, as the future of modern warfare appears to be moving towards all out ‘sci-fi battle’ the lords of war at Lockheed Martin have been investing heavily into weaponizing lasers.
One practical use Lockheed hopes to weaponize lasers for is to stop a car dead in its tracks from over a mile away. They don’t want to blow the car up, they don’t want to kill the people inside the car, they simply want to use a high-powered laser to stop a vehicle dead in its tracks from far distances.
Why? Well perhaps this truck is speeding towards a military base or a consulate and is packed full of explosives, or wants to blow up a city square. The laser could then be used to demobilize the truck while preventing explosion and soldiers could move in to apprehend the attempting suicide bomber.
And because I told you in the headline that Lockheed HAS successfully created a laser for this very purpose, we can all give a nice round of applause for Lockheed’s laser scientists!
Using the ‘ATHENA’ laser (Advanced Test High Energy Asset) Lockheed scientists successfully burned a hole through the engine of a truck from over a mile away, successfully immobilizing the vehicle. Here’s a pic of their handy work:
Lockheed Martin sent out a press release announcing their achievement in lasers:
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.
I for one welcome a future where all things precious are guarded by lasers. I’d love to live in a world where nearly everything of value is weaponized with lasers.
We all know Dr. Evil’s laser sharks:
But what about a world where ‘Battle Bots’ was back on TV (it IS coming back) but the Battle Bots had frickin’ laser beams! Or where border patrol agents could use laser beams to stop trucks brining in blow from Mexico instead of having to chase them for miles across the desert and losing all that sweet, sweet cocaine as it’s thrown out the windows by fleeing coyotes!
Lasers are our future.
But as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I have freakish hands. You didn’t think I was going to let you out of here without elaborating on that, did you? Here’s a GIF of my deformity in action:
(Big thank you to M.Goodmark from the Woven team for helping me make that GIF above!)