Operational Lasers for AC-130

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neptune

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Unread post13 Dec 2016, 08:39

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... 30-432355/

OPERATIONAL LASERS FOR AC-130

12 DECEMBER, 2016
BY: LEIGH GIANGRECO WASHINGTON DC

Solid-state slab lasers have already evolved to a point of maturity where they could soon be demonstrated on an Air Force Special Operations AC-130 gunship, a US Air Force study finds.

As part of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board’s (AFSAB) 2016 studies, the board examined fielding a high energy laser on an AFSOC gunship. The study found there are existing lasers that will fit within the aircraft’s size, weight, power and budget limits, says AFSAB chair Werner Dahm. Although technologies must achieve a technology readiness level 6 to enter into a programme of record, capabilities with a lower TRL are suitable for a near-term demonstration, Dahm says. The laser would also be designed so the technology could be upgraded over the years as the service requires higher power levels.

Fiber lasers have also made progress, but aren’t prime-time ready, according to Dahm. "They’re getting all the light from the little fibers,” he says. “Putting the light together is not hard. Putting the light together so that all the wavefronts are exactly lined up, that’s a lot of fun to get that to work.”

The study also determined that Lockheed Martin AC-130J’s onboard power generator has enough power to operate a laser that could fire frequent shots. The laser capability would not require new research to develop batteries that could store the energy needed on the platform, Dahm adds. The study determined how many shots the laser could take and that the capability would prove operationally useful, though Dahm could not discuss how many shots AFSOC wants the laser to fire.

AFSOC would fly the laser equipped AC-13OJ the same as it does the legacy system. In a defensive operation, pilots would prosecute their target by banking the aircraft in a lefthand pylon turn and firing down. In place of its 30-millimeter gun mounted on its side, the high energy laser would shoot at surface-to-air missiles or an enemy with a shoulder-launched SAM. AFSOC would contest a variety of targets in an offensive mission, Dahm says.

"On the offensive side, it’s all the sorts of things you can imagine AFSOC is going to encounter when they arrive," he says. "Everything from physical infrastructure to all sorts of other things."

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Unread post13 Dec 2016, 17:36

Interesting, thanks for posting.
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Unread post15 Dec 2016, 19:27

Yeesh... the Yanks are putting lasers on gunships while the Russkies still haven't figured out how to fling planes off a ship and recover them properly... What an insane world we live in. Cool bit of news though! Thanks for sharing!
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Unread post03 Mar 2017, 19:07

http://breakingdefense.com/2017/03/afso ... thin-year/

AFSOC Expects C-130 Laser Tests Within Year

By Colin Clark
March 02, 2017

ORLANDO: More than a year since news broke that Air Force Special Operations Command planned to install and test lasers on its fabulously lethal AC-130 gunships, the plan now is to get its top unfunded requirement tested within a year.
Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, head of AFSOC, told me that was now the plan. General Atomics and other companies have been spending their own research and development (IRAD) money on the capability, as we reported in late 2015. AFSOC is eager to run tests so it can determine whether the laser is effective and to demonstrate to possible skeptics that it works. “Can we control the beam accurately? There’s enough scar tissue that exists from programs in the past that we should show this can be done,” he said, referring to the late and largely unlamented Airborne Laser, which was enormously over-budget and late and eventually determined to be unfeasible for military use. Webb said AFSOC hasn’t “decided where the laser would go.” The tests will help determine that, as well as which mix of weapons is most effective. His predecessor, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, said the laser would probably go on the left side of the plane. Why does AFSOC want a laser on the gunship? Heithold put it clearly:  “The reason that I want it on an AC-130 is, right now, when an AC-130 starts firing kinetic weaponry, everybody knows you’re there. What I want on the airplane is to be able to silently disable something.”
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Unread post17 Mar 2017, 09:14

http://news.lockheedmartin.com/2017-03- ... _117:19296

Lockheed Martin to Deliver World Record-Setting 60kW Laser to U.S. Army
The Beam Combined Fiber Laser is the Most Powerful Laser of Its Type Yet Demonstrated

Mar 16, 2017

BOTHELL, Wash., March 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has completed the design, development and demonstration of a 60 kW-class beam combined fiber laser for the U.S. Army. 

In testing earlier this month, the Lockheed Martin laser produced a single beam of 58 kW, representing a world record for a laser of this type. The Lockheed Martin team met all contractual deliverables for the laser system and is preparing to ship it to the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Ala. "Delivery of this laser represents an important milestone along the path to fielding a practical laser weapon system," said Paula Hartley, vice president, Owego, New York general manager and Advanced Product Solutions within Lockheed Martin's Cyber, Ships & Advanced Technologies line of business. "This milestone could not have been achieved without close partnership between the U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin; we are pleased to be able to deliver this system for their further integration and evaluation." Lockheed Martin's laser is a beam combined fiber laser, meaning it brings together individual lasers, generated through fiber optics, to generate a single, intense laser beam. This allows for a scalable laser system that can be made more powerful by adding more fiber laser subunits. The laser is based on a design developed under the Department of Defense's Robust Electric Laser Initiative Program, and further developed through investments by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army into a 60kW-class system. "The inherent scalability of this beam combined laser system has allowed us to build the first 60kW-class fiber laser for the U.S. Army," said Robert Afzal, Ph.D., senior fellow for Laser and Sensor Systems. "We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air." According to Afzal, the Lockheed Martin team created a laser beam that was near "diffraction-limited," meaning it was close to the physical limits for focusing energy toward a single, small spot. The laser system also proved to be highly efficient in testing, capable of translating more than 43 percent of the electricity that powered it directly (140kW) into the actual laser beam it emitted.

Laser weapons provide a complement to traditional kinetic weapons in the battlefield. In the future, they will offer reliable protection against threats such as swarms of drones or large numbers of rockets and mortars.  In 2015, the company used a 30kW fiber laser weapon, known as ATHENA, to disable a truck from a mile away. Lockheed Martin has pioneered laser weapon systems for more than 40 years, making advances in precision pointing and control, line-of-sight stabilization and adaptive optics – essential functions in harnessing and directing the power of a laser beam – and in fiber laser devices using spectral beam combining. Lockheed Martin intends to develop a family of laser weapon systems capable of various power levels tailored to address missions across sea, air and ground platforms.

For additional information, visit our lockheedmartin.com/directed energy.

About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 97,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.
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