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  • Lockheed laser could enhance weapons systems

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2014
The successful demonstration of a 30-kW electric fiber laser is a step forward toward deployment of a mission-relevant laser weapons system for air, land and sea military platforms. Developed by Lockheed Martin’s Aculight Laser Solutions unit of Bothell, Wash., it is the highest-power laser documented to retain beam quality and electrical efficiency, Lockheed said.

Using spectral beam combining, the researchers sent beams from multiple fiber laser modules, each with a unique wavelength, into a combiner that forms a single powerful, high-quality beam – using about 50 percent less electricity than solid-state laser technologies.

Prior laser weapons demonstrations have shown target acquisition, tracking and destruction. However, those solutions were limited for tactical military use because their laser inefficiencies drove significant size, power and cooling needs that were not readily supported by key military ground and airborne platforms.


GLOSSARY
fiber laser
A laser in which the lasing medium is an optical fiber doped with low levels of rare-earth halides to make it capable of amplifying light. Output is tunable over a broad range and can be broadband. Laser diodes can be used for pumping because of the fiber laser's low threshold power, eliminating the need for cooling.
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