The US Army’s 60 kilowatt advanced test high energy asset (ATHENA) laser weapon prototype took down five Outlaw unmanned aerial systems over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico last month.
The weapons platform is designed by Lockheed Martin, which posted the following video of ATHENA in action.
According to the defense contracting giant, the weapon system makes use of the magnifying glass effect to strengthen the beam applied against targets. It can horizontally rotate to strike targets in any direction; boasts unlimited ammunition by injecting power and removing excess heat from the turret itself; and is compatible for air, land, and sea domains.
On Wednesday, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) chief Lt. Gen. Marshall Webb said the service plans to test a much stronger 150 kilowatt laser weapon system aboard a gunship in 2018. The weapon system, known as the high energy liquid laser area defense system (HELLADS), is the result of a General Atomics project that has received significant development support and funding from the Pentagon’s secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) because it wouldn’t be related to the government if it didn’t have an acronym.