Laser Warfare: The Future Of Combat?
Air Force General Hawk Carlisle announced plans to attach directed energy pods to fighter plains by 2020 at last week’s Air Force Association Air and Space conference.
“That day is a lot closer than I think a lot of people think it is,” Carlisle said during his presentation.
A directed energy pod, which is military jargon for laser, emits highly focused energy to destroy targets. The pods can take energy from electromagnetic radio waves, particles with mass, or sound waves. A directed energy pod uses energy to heat enemy targets until they explode.
This laser is able to stop enemy aircrafts, drones, and missiles at a lower cost per shot than current missiles and guns, according to Carlisle.
Low-power laser weapons were on display at the exposition, including two mock-ups that could be attached to the Predator and Reaper drones. The Air Force would like to develop more powerful weapons for fighter planes and other manned aircrafts.
The U.S. Navy deployed the military’s first laser weapon late last year. The weapon is aboard the U.S.S. Ponce and is capable of destroying small boats, submarines, and light aircraft, such as drones. The weapon uses a 30-killowat beam 2-3 nanometers in diameter to burn up enemy targets.
The Air Force is currently working with a 150-plus kilowatt system called HELLADS, which recently moved into ground-based testing at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Air Force leaders hope HELLADS will be field-ready within the next five years.