The US successfully tested a laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight

Hong Kong (CNN)A US Navy warship has successfully tested a new high-energy laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet said in a statement Friday.

Images and videos provided by the Navy show the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland executing “the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser” to disable an aerial drone aircraft, the statement said.

The images show the laser emanating from the deck of the warship. Short video clips show what appears to be the drone burning.

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China’s airborne laser weapon would change dogfighting forever

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Airborne lasers can be used offensively or defensively.

The Chinese military put out notice it wants airborne laser pods.

The pods could be used offensively or defensively, against aircraft or even missiles.

Airborne lasers, moving at light speed, could end dogfighting as we know it.

China’s military is soliciting would-be suppliers for a new airborne laser weapon. Notices on a government website invited defense contractors to provide information on an airborne laser attack pod. Depending on the level of power, the pod could be used to defend a friendly aircraft from incoming missile threats or destroy enemy aircraft and ground targets. Laser weapons are the next revolution in aerial warfare and could make dogfighting obsolete.

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ATHENA laser weapon counters multiple drones in full-integration test

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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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The U.S. military is buying a $130 million laser weapon

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A team of Lockheed Martin and Dynetics engineers just won a $130 million contract to provide a 100-kilowatt laser weapon for the U.S. Army.

The High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator — evocatively abbreviated HEL TVD — laser system is slated to be tested at a missile range in New Mexico in 2022, Defense News reports.

“High energy laser weapons have been a system that the United States has wanted to add into their defense portfolio since the invention of the laser,” said senior VP of contracts at Dynetics Ronnie Chronister in a press release.

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