Air Force Takes Aim at Lasers on Fighter Jets

For the Air Force, the daily use of a laser as a weapon itself is coming. The youngest of the U.S. military services, founded more than a decade before the laser’s invention, is looking to incorporate the high-energy systems into its warfighting arsenal.

Other military branches have recently developed or deployed these systems. The Navy installed a 30-kilowatt (kW) laser weapon system that operated on the USS Ponce for several years before its decommissioning on October 14, and the Army received a 60-kW combined fiber laser system in June from Lockheed Martin. This spring, the Army took over research and development of MAX POWER, counter-IED microwave technology that began as a concept within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Across the Atlantic, the U.K. Defence Science and Technical Laboratory unveiled its new laser cannon in September and will begin testing a demonstrator next year for Royal Navy applications.


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