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New Laser Weapons Coming to a Drone Near You: General Atomics Predator-C Avenger Getting 150-Kilowatt Laser Weapon, and Rheinmetall Defence Developing 80-Kilowatt Gatling Laser!

New Laser Weapons Coming to a Drone Near You: General Atomics Predator-C Avenger Getting 150-Kilowatt Laser Weapon, and Rheinmetall Defence Developing 80-Kilowatt Gatling Laser!

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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:

Aircraft Systems
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI)
14200 Kirkham Way
Poway, CA 92064
Phone: 858-312-2810
Fax: 858-312-4247
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.ga-asi.com

Mission Systems
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
16761 Via Del Campo Ct.
San Diego, CA 92127
(858) 762-6700
Fax: (858) 762-6952
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.ga-asi.com

Rheinmetall Defence Electronics GmbH
Brüggeweg 54
28309 Bremen
Germany
Phone: +49 421 457-01
Fax: +49 421 457-2900
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.rheinmetall-defence.com/en/rheinmetall_defence/company/divisions_and_subsidiaries/rheinmetall_defence_electronics/index.php

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New Laser Weapons Coming to a Drone Near You: General Atomics Predator-C Avenger Getting 150-Kilowatt Laser Weapon, and Rheinmetall Defence Developing 80-Kilowatt Gatling Laser! by
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About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.