Air Force aims for laser weapons on a fighter jet by 2021
The Air Force Research Laboratory is forging ahead with a high-energy laser designed to shoot down drones, incoming rockets and mortar rounds and hopes to have a demonstration model ready by 2021, officials say.
The Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator program, or SHiELD, which launched this year, seeks to equip supersonic warplanes, such as the B-1 Lancer, F-35 Lightning and F-22 Raptor, with defensive lasers mounted in external pods.
The Air Force wants a high-energy laser system compact enough to complement the internal cannon and missiles equipped on its fighter jets.
The new system uses a type of optical fiber as the light-emitting material, instead of the neodymium-doped crystals used in conventional solid-state lasers. Since fiber can be coiled, more power can be packed into a compact system.
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