Special Operations Command prepares to test airborne high-energy laser

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Special Operations Command prepares to test airborne directed energy weapon, that was reported by nationaldefensemagazine.org.

Over the past 20 years, the military and its partners in industry have figured out how to build lasers and other directed energy weapons. The devices have changed from often-hazardous chemical lasers to more reliable solid-state lasers. The power has grown from dozens of watts to dozens of kilowatts.

“We’re no longer talking about bulky chemical lasers, but streamlined electrical lasers,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command.

Over the next year, the command plans to make major strides in the development of the technology, Webb said.

It will first conduct vibration tests, he said. In the fiscal year 2014 office of the director of operational test and evaluation annual report, J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester at the time, found that the AC-130J was having issues integrating its precision strike package because the gunship was generating more vibration than previous aircraft. That created the risk of fratricide, Gilmore noted. While the issue was resolved years ago, Webb said he would keep a close eye on any such reoccurrence with the laser integration.

Asked if he was concerned, he said: “I don’t know if concern is the right word. But … we had that issue with kinetic weapons and certainly this technology is a challenge.” 

AFSOC wanted to conduct the vibration test early on so it can stabilize the beam and reduce excessive movement or “jitter,” he said.

The next step will be to construct a special window — which will be placed where the gunship’s 30mm gun port currently resides — from which the laser beam will shoot, Webb said. 

Read more at www.nationaldefensemagazine.org.


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