5 hi-tech laser weapon systems that currently exist


4) Mk 38 Mod 2 Tactical Laser System –


Originally designed as a chain gun that had to be manually controlled, BAE’s Mk 38 25 mm was given a technological makeover with its latest variant Mk 38 Mod 2. The advanced piece of weaponry incorporates an electro-optical/infrared fire control system for targeting capability during both day and night. However, BAE in collaboration with Boeing went one step further to bring laser into the mix. According to the engineers involved in the project, the addition of the laser weapon module allows the system to achieve high-precision accuracy against a range of fast-moving targets, starting from small boats to UAVs.

Interestingly, the weapon system is touted to have the ability to discharge different levels of laser energy, all depending on the speed and the size of the target. As Michael Rinn, Boeing Directed Energy Systems (DES) division vice president, said –

The Mk 38 Mod 2 system is revolutionary because it combines kinetic and directed energy weapons capability. Our approach is an affordable solution for the customer, because this system can be integrated seamlessly into existing shipboard command interfaces.

Video courtesy of Military.com’s video pro.


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HELLADS (or High-Energy Liquid Laser Defense System) from General Atomics, seriously ups the ante when it comes to the tactical side of laser weapon systems. Designed to be mounted on aircraft (as opposed to ground-based systems), the mechanism is streamlined in terms of its ultra-compact size. This makes it only one-tenth in dimensions and weight, if measured in comparison to other laser systems. In fact, according to DARPA, the effective weight-to-energy ratio of a tactical laser system fit for an aircraft should equate to under 5 kg (11 lbs) per kW, while accounting for a size of 3 cubic meters (105 cubic ft). The HELLADS passes all these requirement thresholds, with its ultimate weight pertaining to just 2,000 lbs (907 kg).

And, in spite of this small size, the advanced laser weapon has the capacity to discharge 150 kW laser; and as such has set the world record for the highest laser output power (based on electrically-powered laser). These enviable numbers are achieved in spite of low power consumption – which in turn allows the system to maintain a consistently high-quality beam for over 30 seconds. As for the inner workings of the contraption, the HELLADS makes use of high-brightness laser diodes that are accompanied by a compact lithium-ion battery and thermal storage components. According to Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics –

HELLADS represents a new generation of tactical weapon systems with the potential to revolutionize sovereign defenses and provide a significant tactical advantage to our warfighters. It is remarkable to see high-power laser technology mature into an extremely compact weapons system and be deployed for field tests. It will be even more remarkable to witness the impact that this will have on U.S. Defense capability.

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