A photo of a car on fire, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood action movie, has displayed the startling power of a new laser weapon which can disable a running car from over a mile away.
Demonstrating the power of the 30 kilo-watt laser, the image shows a small truck with smoke billowing from a hole seared into its bonnet.
The prototype of the device known as Advanced Test High Energy Asset (Athena) successfully disabled the engine of the vehicle in a matter of seconds in its test run.
During the test, the truck was mounted on a platform with its engine and drive train running to simulate a real-life scenario.
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 but also highly lethal.
This new laser technology looks likely to take centre stage on the battlefields of the future.
Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin chief technology officer, said: “Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionising directed energy systems.
“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 warship USS Ponce, which is currently stationed in the Persian Gulf.
A video of the laser weapon system released by the 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. Other targets were located at sea and in the air, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones.
Owing to the weapon's power, a Navy Official clarified at the time that humans were not a target of Laws, under stipulations of the Geneva Convention.
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