Lockheed Martin this week announced the start of mass production of the Athena laser combat system at one of its facilities in Botella, Washington. The system is based on a 60 kilowatt combat laser.
The laser consists of several fiber laser modules, which allows achieving the necessary flexibility in a wide range when hitting targets, and also reduces the likelihood of a complete system failure due to duplication of blocks. Thanks to the modular layout, it is possible to increase the power of the damaging impulse up to 120 kW.
The Athena was tested in March by destroying a pickup truck with a 30-kilowatt beam. Lockheed argues that by creating a total powerful beam, they have overcome the limitations inherent in other lasers. Optical fiber laser modules have received an active amplification medium consisting of doped rare-earth elements - erbium, ytterbium, neodymium, and others.
Optical fibers are highly flexible and small in size, which allows them to be wound on a reel and stretched for hundreds of meters. Ian McKinney, Lead Business Development Specialist for Laser Sensors and Systems, Lockheed is convinced of the success:
"With the advent of modular lasers, the possibility of a complete system failure is drastically reduced, and their production and remanufacturing of individual components are simplified."