ATHENA laser weapon counters multiple drones in full-integration test


The ATHENA system shown here destroyed multiple drones in a real-world demonstration for the Air ForceLockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) laser weapon engaged and destroyed multiple drone threats in a recent field test at a US government test range at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The laser weapon system being developed for the US Air Force was used against a mix of fixed-wing and rotary drones with the aid of government command and control systems.

The development of laser weapons requires more than just creating more and more powerful beam generators. Such systems must also be compact, portable, and robust enough to deploy in the field; able to track and lock onto a target; and be able to keep the beam stable over long distances.

In addition, to be practical, such weapons must be able to integrate with existing command and control systems and radar sensors. It was to demonstrate this that was the focus of the Fort Sill test, where the ATHENA laser was operated by airmen, who were given radar tracks of the drones, which then allowed ATHENA’s beam director to slew, acquire, track, and shoot down the targets using its high-energy laser.

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