By David Crane
david (at) defensereview (dot) com
Images Credit: DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
September 24, 2015
Last updated on 9/25/15.
In the last two days, a couple of articles have come out on new military-grade laser weapons coming to fruition, specifically manned and unmanned aircraft-mounted laser weapons. The first piece, published by Defense One discusses General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.’s (GA-ASI) desire to integrate a 150-kilowatt laser onto its Predator-C Avenger RPA armed/weaponized UAS/UAV/drone aircraft by 2017, which sounds pretty ambitious. The Predator-C Avenger is the next evolution from the Lockheed Martin HELLFIRE II Missile-armed Predator B RPA/MQ-9 Reaper weaponized UAS. GA-ASI’s Vice President for Mission Systems recently told Defense One that the company is “funded right now to develop a laser module compatible with the aircraft and study putting it on the Avenger”. More specfically, DARPA’s giving GA-ASI $40M ($40 Million) USD to develop the new UAS-mounted laser weapons tech.
The two key obstacles one has to overcome in mounting and effectively utilizing a weapons-grade laser on on an aircraft is overcoming, or compensating for, aero-optic distortion, and reducing the size, weight, and power (SWAP) requirements of the laser weapon system . If you don’t, you can’t effectively acquire, identify, track and target “objects of interest” on the ground. The Predator-C Avenger has a 3,000-lb payload capacity, so it may work as an aerial platform. The Avenger will run like a hybrid vehicle, generating power for the laser as it flies. “You use the aircraft power to charge an intermediate storage system, and then that runs the laser when it’s doing laser shots,” said Perry.
The second article, published by Sputnik News covers the Rheinmetall Defense Electronics (RDE) Gatling laser that combines four 20-kilowatt lasers to form a single 80-kilowatt laser beam. This combining of lower-power lasers to create a very powerful single laser beam is known as superimposition or spectral beam combining (SBC) . The Gatling laser can reportedly down a drone at 500 meters at present, but it’s likely capable of accomplishing this at much greater distance, since a much less powerful Rheinmetall 30-kilowatt laser detonated an 82-millimeter mortar in mid-flight at 1,000 meters.
Company Contact Info:
Rheinmetall Defence Electronics GmbH
Phone: +49 421 457-01
Fax: +49 421 457-2900
Email: [email protected]
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