Photokina 2014 highlights

Laser weapon

The HEL MD that took out mortars and UAVs in flight using its vehicle-mounted 10-kW laser ...

High energy laser weapons are a hot area of research with companies including Lockheed Martin, Rheinmetall and Northrop Grumman all developing systems. Boeing is also in the mix with its High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), which is being put through its paces by the US Army. Between November 18 and December 10, the HEL MD successfully took out mortar rounds and UAVs in flight, marking a first for the vehicle-mounted system.  Read More

Boeing Thin Disk Laser engineers and the laser's main optical bench (Photo: Boeing)

The likelihood of lasers appearing on the battlefield was boosted last week when Boeing announced that its Thin Disk Laser system had achieved unexpected levels of power and efficiency. In a recent demonstration for the US Department of Defense, the laser’s output was 30 percent higher than project requirements and had greater beam quality, a result which paves the way toward a practical tactical laser weapon.  Read More

HMS Hermes may have been one of the ships equipped with a laser weapon (Photo: Royal Navy)

Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future. However, previously-classified British documents prove that not only were the major powers working on laser weapons in the 1970s and 80s, but that they were already being deployed with combat units in war zones. A letter from the Ministry of Defence released under the 30-year rule reveals that laser weapons were deployed on Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War in 1982, and that the British government was concerned about similar weapons being developed behind the Iron Curtain.  Read More

The Laser Gatling Gun features six burning lasers, and one aiming beam

Patrick Priebe, the German laser weapons hobbyist who previously brought us such creations as the Iron Man Gauntlet and the Plasma Cutter, has gone and made something else. This time around, he’s built a proof-of-concept Laser Gatling Gun.  Read More

Laser weapons hobbyist Patrick Priebe has built a working replica of the Plasma Cutter fro...

Well, our cyberpunk-weapons-making friend Patrick Priebe has been at it again. Having previously built things like a gauss rifle, a rotary-blade-shooting crossbow and an Iron Man laser gauntlet, he recently let us know about his latest creation – the video game-based Plasma Cutter.  Read More

Laser Weapon System (LaWS) temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS D...

The U.S. Navy took a step farther away from John Paul Jones and closer to James T. Kirk as it announced that a solid-state laser weapon will be deployed on a U.S. Navy ship in fiscal year 2014. The announcement that the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) will deployed on board USS Ponce (AFSB[I] 15) two years ahead of schedule was made on Monday at the Sea-Air-Space exposition, National Harbor, Maryland. The deployment is the latest in a line of recent recent high-energy laser demonstrations carried out by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Sea Systems Command.  Read More

The Rheinmetall Laser

Practical high-energy laser weapons came a step closer to reality in November as Rheinmetall tested its new 50 kW high-energy weapon laser demonstrator. The series of exercises took place at the German-based group’s Ochsenboden Proving Ground in Switzerland. There the 50 kW laser weapon was tested against a series of targets to show the improvements over last year’s 10 kW version.  Read More

The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) that will incorporate a 10-kilowatt sol...

With the solid-state high-energy lasers already being tested on the sea and in the air, Boeing is continuing development of a truck-mounted system. The system is similar in concept to Boeing’s Laser Avenger that is intended for combating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but boasts a more powerful laser for countering a wider variety of threats, including rockets, artillery, mortars, as well as UAVs.  Read More

A lightning bolt travels horizontally down a plasma channel from the LIPC before deviating...

Thought that title might get your attention, but shooting lightning bolts down laser beams is just what a device being developed at the Picatinny Arsenal military research facility in New Jersey is designed to do. Known as a Laser-Induced Plasma Channel, or LIPC, the device would fry targets that conduct electricity better that the air or ground that surrounds them by steering lightning bolts down a plasma pathway created by laser beams.  Read More

The Gamma laser was tested against the skin and components of a BQM-7 drone

Practical laser weapons came another step closer to reality recently as defense contractor Northrop Grumman tested the latest version of its Firestrike solid-state lasers. On May 1st, the company announced that it had completed trials at its Redondo Beach laboratory of a more powerful and rugged generation of its slab lasers, that combine with improved sensor capacities to create a general laser component that can provide the military with a wide range of greatly enhanced defensive and offensive laser capabilities.  Read More

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