Lockheed Martin has just successfully tested the latest of its new lasers, the Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA), to devastating effect. How devastating? Well the laser was able to render a truck completely immobilised from a mile away.
In the test, the truck was placed on a mount and the engine started. Within "seconds" the 30kw laser cut through the bonnet and seared through the engine block leaving the vehicle completely paralysed.
Lockheed is testing ATHENA's non-lethal capabilities as a weapon that can damage or disable moving vehicles with minimal cost or risk of collateral damage.
As you can see from the molten hole in the bonnet the test was, to all extents and purposes, a complete success.
ATHENA is based on Lockheed Martin's ADAM testbed which uses a powerful new fibre optic laser. Lockheed Martin chief technology officer said on the test:
“Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems...This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks.”
Fibre optic lasers are a powerful new generation of weapons that use a process called Spectral Beam Combining. It takes multiple fibre optic modules and then combines them into a single powerful beam.