Fourth generation fighters F-15E, F-15C, F-15EX Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon of the US Air Force (Air Force), as well as possibly the A-10C Warthog attack aircraft, will receive “death rays” – a system of laser weapons Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD), writes Popular Mechanics.
“The US Air Force expects to deploy laser weapons systems on fighters by the mid-2020s. The service relies on the defense contractor [Lockheed Martin ]’s SHiELD laser system, a laser that will protect fighters from approaching missiles, ”the newspaper writes.
According to Popular Mechanics, a laser mounted on the fighter’s fuselage or wing will be able to “shoot down” enemy air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. The publication notes that this weapon will become the world’s first active anti-missile defense (ABM) system installed on fighters.
Popular Mechanics writes that the power of a laser controlled using artificial intelligence (AI) systems is estimated at tens of kilowatts, and the main difficulty in using it can be “atmospheric effects”, in particular, smoke and high humidity.
In September, the American military-industrial corporation Lockheed Martin published a video in which the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter was shown with the Tactical Airborne Laser Weapon System (TALWS). At the same time, The Aviationist noted that the laser installation shown in the video was created, probably as part of the SHiELD program.
In April 2018, Nelson Pedreiro, head of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center, said that progress in directed energy weapon technology had reached a tipping point.
In March 2015, the company demonstrated the results of the ATHENA laser cannon, which was able to burn through the hood of a car from a distance of more than two kilometers.
In February 2010, the US Missile Defense Agency announced that it had tested an air-launched combat laser, during which the accelerating ballistic missiles were shot down for the first time.