Lockheed Martin has successfully completed factory tests of the Airborne High Energy Laser (AHEL) system, a kind of laser cannon with 60kW of power capable of immobilizing targets on the ground.
Now, the equipment will be installed in an AC-130J for flight tests, as well as ground assessments by the US Air Force.
The airborne high-energy laser program is part of a broader project by the manufacturer, dubbed Direct Energy, which aims to provide the US military with a portable and powerful system capable of targeting threats on the ground, at sea and in the air.
Lockheed has already carried out some tests with prototypes and they proved to be successful. In 2017, the ATHENA system (Advanced Test High Energy Asset) managed to shoot down five UAVs in flight, proving its capability.
One of the company’s main goals is to develop a compact pod that is capable of being transported by fighter jets in order to hit small targets such as missiles or ground-attack weapons.
“Completion of this milestone is a tremendous accomplishment for our customer,” said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions. “These mission success milestones are a testament to our partnership with the U.S. Air Force in rapidly achieving important advances in laser weapon system development. Our technology is ready for fielding today.”