SCIENCE
03/06/2015 02:25 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Lockheed Martin Creates Laser That Can Disable A Truck In Seconds From More Than A Mile Away

It wasn't a projectile or ammunition that destroyed this truck. But rather, a laser:

lockheed martin truck

Defense and aerospace company Lockheed Martin announced this week that its new fiber-optic laser weapon system, dubbed ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset), successfully took out a small truck “from more than a mile away” during a recent field test.

The ATHENA system uses a technique called "spectral beam combining," which involves merging multiple laser modules to create a single and super-powerful 30-kilowatt laser beam. The system is described as having the “highest power ever documented by a laser weapon of its type."

“To put that in perspective, the laser in an everyday pointer might be about 1 milliwatt, or 3 million times less,” said Motherboard.

The truck had been resting on props for the field test, but its engine and drivetrain were reportedly running to simulate a real vehicle threat. The laser is said to have disabled the truck’s engine in a “matter of seconds.”

Engadget writes:

Rather than causing the engine to explode, as per Hollywood, the truck was simply rendered unable to move. Reading between the lines, perhaps Lockheed believes that the gear will be a useful, potentially non-lethal precaution against explosive vehicles being driven, at speed, towards infrastructure points, guard towers or military bases.

Keoki Jackson, chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin, said in a statement that the ATHENA test “represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks.”

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