The defense research firm Lockheed Martin has figured out how to attach a laser weapon to a business class jet — and it works. So, when the aliens attack, we’ll be able to retrofit jets to help fight off the attackers. Huzzah!
The company announced it had conducted almost 60 successful flight tests in 2014 and 2015 (with a low-powered laser, of course), designed to determine if you could successfully fire a laser at those speeds in the air while counteracting atmospheric turbulence. Turns out, you totally can. The plan is to use the data from these tests to develop and pave the way for laser weapons on tactical aircraft.
According to Lockheed Martin, the Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control (ABC) turret is the first turret ever to demonstrate a 360-degree field of regard for laser weapon systems on an aircraft flying near the speed of sound. As the aircraft traveled at jet cruise speeds, a low-power laser beam was fired through the turret’s optical window to measure and verify successful performance in all directions.
“This advanced turret design will enable tactical aircraft to have the same laser weapon system advantages as ground vehicles and ships,” Doug Graham, vice president of missile systems and advanced programs, Strategic and Missile Defense Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, said. “This is an example of how Lockheed Martin is using a variety of innovative technologies to transform laser devices into integrated weapon systems.”
The ABC design uses cutting-edge flow-control and aerodynamics technology to minimize the effect of turbulence on a laser beam. To get the laser beam through the atmosphere, it also used deformable mirrors to prevent the signal from diffusing in the turbulence.
Welcome to the future -- where even business class jets can be mounted with laser cannon.
(Via Popular Science)