Laser weapon disables vehicle from a mile away

London: In what promises to be a potent new military weapon, US defence and aerospace company Lockheed Martin has come up with a laser gun which can disable a running vehicle from a mile (1.6 km) away, media reported.

In a field test, the 30-kilowatt laser weapon system, known as Advanced Test High Energy Asset (Athena), burnt through the engine of a small truck in just a few seconds, after being fired from over a mile away, according to media reports.

During the test, the truck was mounted on a platform with its engine and drive train running to simulate a real-life scenario, The Independent reported on Friday.

The laser harnesses a technique called “spectral beam combining”, which causes multiple fibre laser modules to form a single, powerful, high-quality beam, making the laser efficient and highly lethal.

This new laser technology looks likely to take centrestage on battlefields of the future.

“Fibre-optic lasers are revolutionising directed energy systems,” said Lockheed Martin chief technology officer Keoki Jackson.

“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.”

Last year, the US navy installed its first laser weapon system, called “Laws”, on its warship USS Ponce, which is currently stationed in the Persian Gulf.

A video of the laser weapon system released by the US Office of Naval Research last year shows it being deployed aboard the ship.

It shows the weapon being used against two test targets, including a speedboat, which bursts into flames after being hit by the laser weapon. Other targets were located at sea and in the air, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones.

Owing to the weapon’s power, a US Navy official clarified at the time that humans were not a target of “Laws”, under stipulations of the Geneva Convention.