Stealth Assassins: Could the Air Force Arm F-35s with Laser Weapons?

The US Air Force is refining its combat strategy tactics and concepts of operation to accommodate the rapid emergence of laser weapons technologies which promise to alter the landscape of modern warfare and substantially expand the envelope of attack possibilities for fighter jets the service anticipates having aircraft and fighter jet fired lasers in operation as soon as the early 2020s as mobile power systems and other integral technologies continue to evolve rapidly not only do laser weapons bring increased precision attacks at the speed of light to incinerate targets but they can be scaled or adjusted to achieve a desired effect such as total destruction partial damage or an even smaller more measured impact depending upon the threat laser weapons offer war fighters opportunities for quick and precise target engagement flexibility and lighter and more responsive support logistics Eva Blaylock spokeswoman for the Air Force Research Laboratory told warrior maven in a written statement the Air Force Research Lab which has been leading the effort from Kirtland Air Force Base has been working on laser weapons development for many years now they have already conducted several ground fire tests and are now preparing for initial air launch demonstrations the next test according to AFRL information includes a fighter jet configured laser pod to be fired from the ground in anticipation of airborne integration the two major 8r FL programs include an air-to-air weapons program called the self-protect high-energy laser demonstrator or shield in a ground fire demonstrator laser weapon system AFRL is working with lockheed martin on shield in anticipation of having operational lasers within the next few years solid-state laser weapons rely purely upon electricity and do not need to draw upon certain specific chemicals as other lasers do essentially they can disable or if needed incinerated target with tremendous heat given the advent of laser weapons fighter pilots are preparing for new tactical possibilities such as an ability to attack multiple targets at once and rapidly retarget Air Force Research Lab taury papers explained while current fighters such as the f-35 our able to launch simultaneous air-to-air attacks on enemy targets such as planes and drones pilots preparing to fire lasers will have an even greater ability to engage multiple targets concurrently this among other things will enable fighter jets to engage in close combat in higher risk scenarios where they might encounter multiple enemy aircraft perhaps of greatest significance laser weapons are entirely scalable Blalock added scalable LT is achieved in many instances by combining emerging several beams into one AFRL States the type of gradual effects a 30 kilo watt laser can deliver includes the denial degradation disruption and destruction of a range of targets from UAS to small goats at a range of several kilometers more powerful lasers have counter-air counter ground and counter see applications against a host of hardened military equipment and vehicles at significant range Blalock added an attack options such as this might give pilots and ability to degrade rather than destroying targets a possibility potentially not afforded by conventional weapons such as air to air or air-to-ground missiles and bombs perhaps for instance an aircraft might wish to disable an enemy assets such as a plane vehicle your enemy fixture of some kind without killing people should civilians be in close proximity as developers advanced miniaturization of mobile onboard power system fighters and cargo aircraft will increasingly operate with an ability to carry a beep magazine without adding large amounts of weight to a plane this brings a number of distinct advantages such as greater fuel efficiency speed and maneuverability a transportable arsenal of laser weapons might remove the need for a fighter jet to travel with large amounts of heavy bombs and missiles allowing the aircraft to operate with increased air-to-air maneuverability an extended mission time a lighter weight aircraft naturally will have increased well time to seek emerging targets by virtue of not having to refuel as often is something able to operate with a decreased logistical footprint a laser armed fighter may also operate for longer periods of time without needing to rearm generating yet another avenue through which to extend missions for a 30 kilo watt laser system the batteries could weigh on the order of 300 pounds and fit within a volume of half of a cubic meter the AFR LSA States all of this means pilots and ground weapons operators will need to employ new tactics and concepts of operation as they prepare for longer faster missions and prepare for the ability to launch scalable attacks laser power is increased AFRL developers explain by use of a two color fiber amplifier alongside these known advantages laser weapons development also faces a number of substantial hurdles as it comes closer to operational status according to AFRL information not only do laser weapons need to be further organized for war but various beam controls need to be integrated to optimize precision and preclude the impact of arrow mechanical jitter beam control systems must be adequately advanced so as to enable precise aiming tracking and pointing amidst the arrow mechanical j-turn boost by vibrations during flight in AFRL paper states if system weight and he are properly managed there will be much less beam attenuation or dispersion of the laser impact high-speed aerodynamics low must be mitigated to avoid aero optical disturbances AFRL data states effective thermal management systems can drastically increase the rate of fire either through traditional liquid cooling loops or through two-phase cooling wherein heat is transferred to end melts a solid the resulting liquid of which is then cooled defensive laser weapons are bringing great promise to the US military as well given that laser can also perform a sense or function they might be able to acquire a knock out an incoming enemy missile they could operate as interceptors traveling of the speed of light offering a quick way to destroy enemy attacks which can include anti-ship missiles air-to-air missiles and even space weapons such as ICBMs this is attractive to weapons developers for tactical and financial reasons as lasers are extremely low cost to fire and could be equally effective against an income attack is compared to an expensive interceptor missile …..


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