Experimental Laser Weapon Shoots Down Rockets, Drones
CREDIT: Lockheed Martin
Lockheed's new laser weapon is hell on wheels for rockets fired at short range. The company announced yesterday (May 8) that its transportable, ground-based Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) system can bring down small rockets, drones and boats.
In an increasingly complex set of tests conducted in March and April of 2013, the ADAM system destroyed small-caliber rockets from two kilometers away.
In a statement, Lockheed Martin referred to these small, improvised projectiles as "Qassam-like" rockets, which may suggest that the company is developing the laser weapon for use in Israeli defenses.
The weapon was also successful at taking down unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at a range of 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles).
"Our test results demonstrate the capabilities of the ADAM system to provide a practical, affordable directed-energy solution to the real-world problem of close-in threats," said Tory Bruno, president of Strategic Missile Defense Systems at Lockheed Martin.
ADAM was built using commercial hardware and Lockheed's beam control architecture and software. The system, which is mounted on a trailer, contains a 10-kilowatt fiber laser designed to destroy targets at close range.
"High-energy lasers complement kinetic energy systems and have unique attributes, including very low cost per engagement, a virtually unlimited 'magazine' and minimal collateral damage," said Doug Graham, a representative of Lockheed Martin.
The ADAM system's effectiveness at taking down targets quickly, even in a cluttered optical environment, means that it's a candidate for use as a standalone system. In other words, ADAM might be the newest version of a killer robot.
But Lockheed's website states that despite some autonomous capabilities, ADAM must accept an initial external radar cue before engaging larger targets, such as UASs and boats.
However its trigger-happy approach to smaller rockets makes it a valuable tool for defending high-value areas, such as military bases and hospitals.
For the past several decades, defense contractors like Lockheed have worked on developing cost-effective laser weapon systems (LaWS), and the world is just starting to see the results.
The U.S. Navy announced in April 2013 that it will be deploying its own laser weapon system, developed by Northrop Grumman, on the USS Ponce in 2014.