Lockheed Martin say they recently demonstrated their laser weapon system for the U.S. Air Force at a government test range at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where the system successfully engaged and shot down multiple fixed wing and rotary drones.

The firm say that the Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) operated in a fully-netted engagement environment with a government command and control (C2) system and radar sensor.

“The radar track was provided to airmen who operated ATHENA via cues from the C2, then ATHENA’s beam director slewed, acquired, tracked and defeated the drone with a high-energy laser. Validating this type of full kill-chain performance has been a priority of the U.S. Air Force and other branches of the Department of Defense, and it remains a requirement for laser weapons to be effective against unmanned aerial systems (UAS) on the battlefield.”

“We’ve watched in recent news this type of laser weapon solution is essential for deterring unmanned vehicle type threats, so it’s an exciting time for us to watch airmen compete Lockheed Martin’s critical technology. ATHENA has evolved to ensure integration and agility are key and it remains an affordable capability for the warfighter,” said Sarah Reeves, vice president of Missile Defense Programs for Lockheed Martin.

The ATHENA system was developed by Lockheed Martin to “provide a cost-effective, complementary anti-drone capability with the network of systems the warfighter is already using”. ATHENA was operated by USAF personnel during this demonstration, and it was able to destroy multiple drones in engagements representative of what is being encountered by U.S. armed forces today, say Lockheed.

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Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Do we have any information on the testing of Dragonfire?
I thought we had started the initial phase of this back in July at the Shoeburyness site.

fearlesstunafish
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fearlesstunafish

if nothing else i absolutely think our laser system has the best name……. cause come on….. dragonfire…. just sounds way better than any of the american acronyms!! 😛

spyintheskyuk
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spyintheskyuk

So very Game of Thrones and indeed far better than a Greek Goddess of handcraft.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Goddess of War too Spy, along with Ares. But honourable War, not blood lust like Ares.

Interestingly, Ares and Athena are also variants of the Ajax vehicles being delivered to the British Army. Like the earlier era Spartans and Samson, they like using ancient names.

As for Athena as a laser, the US also have an Aegis, which was the shield of Zeus, which was often lent to Athena!

So still apt.

Steve R
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Steve R

If I was developing Dragonfire I’d put a label on the fire button that reads “Dracarys.”

andy reeves
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andy reeves

or fazer, handle with care, and this way up! so the clyde don’t bugger that up as well.

Spyinthesky
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Spyinthesky

I was wondering if these American systems take advantage of the Fess power system being developed for Dragonfire as it was originally from a co-effort research project and claimed to have been effective earlier in the year.

DaveyB
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DaveyB

I think the majority of these lasers are combination lasers where multiple beams are added together to give variable power. I’m not sure if the US are using flywheels to store energy for their lasers, as they’re probably just using a big diesel generator as its less new tech to worry about. I’d be very surprised however, if we don’t use a combination of flywheel and super-capacitors for energy storage for a productionised Dragonfire.

whlgrubber
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whlgrubber

davyb, do you happen to know the recharge rates for these devices? i assume they must be operating at Kw power to achieve a reasonable range.

DaveyB
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DaveyB

The laser that MBDA are building for Germany is supposed to be about 100KW. They are talking about it being able to take out missile, aircraft and drones at a range of between 2 and 3Km, Which compared to what the US is boasting is I think a realistic figure, especially due to the expected weather conditions of Europe. If you’re using the laser in the clear blue skies of Texas, then the range would be significantly more. As to recharge rates, no, most companies are not releasing their figures. However, Rolls-Royce have developed a purpose built generator for lasers… Read more »

whlgrubber
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whlgrubber

Thanks for a great response DaveyB, I wonder what its capabilites are against small surface vessels, such as Iranian gunboats. leave the airborne fight to AA missiles with much longer range.

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

Dont get excited yet. Lasers are hugely inefficient with regards to power and cooling. You lose over 60-70% of the power needed to generate the beam in system heating effects . So a 100kw laser needs 3 or 4 times that ship supplied power to generate the beam and 3 times the cooling capacity to absorb the laser systems heating effects. The range and power requirement info below is a little old but probably a good accurate benchmark to use. Athena is a laser of a low couple of hundred Kw. It can take down boats and UAVs at short… Read more »

DaveyB
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DaveyB

Hasn’t stopped the Russians fitting a laser dazzler to their ships. There is the idea of scalling up the Directed Infra-Red Counter-Measure (DIRCM) turrets that are being fitted to aircraft, on to ships. Much like Leonardo’s Mysis which is primarily used to defeat manpads, by either blinding the infra-red sensor or burning it out if its at (really) close range. Clearly this system only works on missiles with an IR sensor, but by scalling up the “laser” it could have a similar affect on multi-sensor missiles, even radar, as it could burn through the antenna and through to the guidance… Read more »

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

The Russians/Soviets had Tin Man if I remember my recognition training correctly as a laser dazzler. They have moved on since then so i have no idea what the latest iteration is. The other issue with dazzlers is that laser beams reflect off the sea and structures. It means that even if you fire a laser from your own ship at something, your own personnel on the upper deck and bridge need laser eyesight protection. As the protection is for the most part wavelength specific it doesn’t cover and protect you against other peoples lasers. In short you are going… Read more »

DaveyB
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DaveyB

No mate, you’ve been sitting in the sun too long….

andy reeves
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andy reeves

been there , best cure? 5 pint of beer!

andy reeves
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andy reeves

does dragonfire work or not? its ages since anything was mentioned