Believed to be the biggest and most technologically advanced air force in the world, the United States Air Force (USAF) plans to introduce laser weapons into their fighter jets in the near future. The bold idea of upgrading its military planes will definitely strengthen the defense of the country.
In the past, killer beams on machines flying around could only be seen in science fiction movies such as the Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Star Wars franchises. Now, because of creative imagination, innovation, and technology, the reality is close to catching up.
Recent reports suggest that the Air Force wants to install laser guns on their fighter jets that are meant to shoot anti-aircraft missiles out of the sky. Lockheed Martin, a global aerospace, security, defense, and advanced technologies company in America, is on board to help achieve this plan.
Lockheed won a $23.6 million contract in order to design, develop, and produce prototype laser beams that would fit on military planes. The deal is part of the USAF’s Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program, which falls under the Air Force Research Lab.
According to Peter Singer, a military analyst, “This technology has been described as ‘coming’ for so long – with it never actually arriving – that people took to believing that it would never happen. Well, now it’s happening. After many false starts, we’re seeing real breakthroughs that are starting to make the idea viable.”
The program is divided into three parts or subsystems:
- The Shield Turret Research in Aero Effects – Northrop Grumman will lead this system that focuses on the beam control system.
- The Laser Pod Research and Development – Boeing will lead this system that will power and cool the laser that is attached on the fighter jet.
- The Laser Advancements for Next-Generation Compact Environments – Lockheed will lead this system, which is the laser itself.
Lockheed Martin and the other companies involved are expected to finish the systems that USAF will test on a military plane by 2021.
The credibility of Lockheed to develop a laser beam for the USAF is as good as done. The defense contractor has already made the impossible seem possible when it introduced a system called Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) to the Defense Force.
ATHENA has the capability of destroying boats, drones, rockets, and vehicles. As long as there is power, this system has unlimited magazine, which is essentially the same thing they want to happen with the SHiELD program.
However, despite the solid similarities between ATHENA and SHiELD, the Army wants the new laser beams on fighter jets to be smaller. In addition, the USAF wants laser beams to be installed in all their fighter jets. It is still a matter of time if that is even possible, but these following models are sure fit for the job and can carry defensive lasers all the way.
- The F-16 Fighting Falcon
- The F-15E Strick Eagle
- The F-15C
Fighter jets are not the only type of aircraft that can benefit to the SHiELD program, because transport planes like the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, Lockheed C-130 Hercules, and Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers could also benefit as well.
Technology is making a statement about the future of the military industry, which has come a long way. Because of advanced technology, laser beams on fighter jets are achieved in the best way possible.