|A prototype of Lockheed Martin's ATHENA laser weapon system burned through a truck's hood and disabled its engine in a matter of seconds from more than a mile away. The truck was mounted on a test stand. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)|
The Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) is a 30 kW spectrally beam combined fiber laser built by Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD; NYSE: LMT) as a military weapon prototype. The company recently field-tested the ground-based prototype system on a small truck more than a mile away, burning through the truck's hood and engine manifold in seconds.
The truck was mounted on a test platform with its engine and drive train running to simulate an operationally-relevant test scenario, according to Lockheed Martin.
ATHENA has a single-transverse mode beam, created by the spectral combination of several fiber-laser beams of differing wavelength. Without spectral combination, the highest single-mode output achieved by a fiber laser is 10 kW, of which IPG Photonics (Oxford, MA) sells a commercial version.
ATHENA is based on the Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) laser weapon system developed by Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, California, which has been shown effective in demonstrations against small airborne and sea-based targets. It incorporates the 30 kW Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) fiber laser developed by the company in Bothell, Washington.
"Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed-energy systems," says 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."