Lockheed Martin is considering laser weapon concepts for use by the F-35 and other aircraft.

A recent press briefing in the Netherlands for the F-35 has restarted the rumour mill that the F-35 will be one of the platforms that will eventually feature laser based weapons technology. The US military and its allies have allocated millions of dollars for directed energy research and development. The US Air Force is pursing laser weapon systems for installation on fighter jets as well as the AC-130J Ghostrider gunship.

The UK also recently announced its interest in creating a laser based defence system, similar to Phalanx, for its warships.

Lockheed Martin, Notre Dame University, DARPA and the Air Force Research Lab last year started flight testing a streamlined and miniaturised airborne laser turret.

The turret allows for 360 degree aiming coverage for directed energy weapons that will be flying on military aircraft in the not so distant future and is able to rapidly aim at targets and focus a directed energy burst through the atmosphere at those targets to disable or destroy them.

Lockheed senior fellow for laser and sensor systems said at a media briefing on the 5th of October last year:

“We’re looking at concepts for the integration of a laser weapon onto the F-35. We’re also looking at the utility and doing models and calculations so you would understand the utility of a leaser weapon system in the F-35.”

General Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, said recently that the US Air Force is continuing efforts to field directed energy weapons:

“I think we’re on the cusp of actually being able to field a true laser weapon within the next five to six years. We’ve got an activity that’s going forward, to put a laser on a fighter aircraft, not to blow up scud missiles or to win in a dogfight, but as an air defence.”

Rumours and speculation are rife but at a time where laser based technology is fast being adopted by the military, we can only expect them to become more common.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Bit ambiguous at end. “Not to blow up Scud Missiles or win a Dogfight, but as an air defence”. Are they looking at interference with incoming laser activity or similar to distract missiles?

  2. Imagine hundreds of such aircraft (perhaps eventually drones and airships aloft for days on end) with advanced radar, datalinks and lasers, supplemented by AEGIS type ships and land installations linked together to create a seamless and adaptable, swarm-like, missile defence system.
    Comprehensive nuclear missile defence achieved not by individual behemoths but a network of semi-autonomous systems. Rugged and effective.

  3. Yep the F35 is so good that the US DOD is considering an updated version of the F22.
    The reality is the F35 is not the all singing all dancing platform envisaged at the of its conception, although to be fair its not as bad as others claim. The F35 will excel in some roles, but fail in others. For the RN one of the failures will be fleet air defence, which will make future conflicts interesting.

  4. Interesting times in current and future advancement in warfare.

    The F35 will be formidable.

    Pilots are tacticians and battle managers of the sky and training and understanding is as vital as future technology.

    What I find striking about this current arms and tech race is seeing the US,UK,Fra and Isreal lead the way then years later the Chinese, the Russians have almost the same replica created.

    In today’s world of information nothing is secretive to governments around the world and eventually the richest of nations will have lasers and so on.

  5. For Mike Sand: The F-22 and F-35 are dissimilar aircraft with different missions. The initial concept was that both aircraft would be produced at the same time to fulfill different missions. The US now recognizes that Secretary Gates’ decision to terminate the F-22 program was one of his worst decisions as Secretary of Defense. And he made a lot of bad decisions.

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