The US Air Force is working on an experimental demonstrator laser weapons that easily bolts on to an aircraft.
A special five-year effort, called the SHIELD program, is aimed at creating sufficient on-board power, optics and high-energy lasers able to defend large platforms such as a B-52 bomber, C-130 aircraft or fighter jet.
Under the program, the Air Force Research Laboratory is working to arm the B-52 with defensive laser weapons able to incinerate attacking air-to-air or air-to-ground missile attack.
“You can take out the target if you put the laser on the attacking weapon for a long enough period of time,” Air Force Chief Scientist Greg Zacharias told Scout Warrior in an interview Tuesday.
Possibly using an externally-mounted pod with sufficient transportable electrical power, the AFRL is already working on experimental demonstrator weapons able to bolt-on to an aircraft, Zacharias added.
Lasers use intense heat and light energy to incinerate targets without causing a large explosion, and they operate at very high speeds, giving them a near instantaneous ability to destroy fast-moving targets and defend against incoming enemy attacks, senior Air Force leaders explained.
Defensive laser weapons could also be used to jam an attacking missile as well, developers explained.
According to the report, air force plana to have a program of record for air-fired laser weapons in place by 2023. The first airborne tests are slated to take place by 2021.