Lockheed Martin is currently examining concepts for laser weapons 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.
Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding officer of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command recently said that he could “absolutely see” putting laser weapons on the F-35B.
“Because of the size and weight requirements for a laser, we’d probably start off with a KC-130. As soon as we could miniaturise it, we’d put them on F-35s, Cobras, any of those attack aircraft.”
The UK also recently announced its interest in creating a directed energy 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 weapons 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 directed energy based technology is fast being adopted by the military, we can only expect them to become more common.