Manufacturer Lockheed Martin posted on YouTube on Monday, September 14, a simulation with an airborne tactical laser weapon (TALWS), mounted on an F-16 Fighting Falcon plane, while neutralizing a missile.
The images show how the F-16 fighter, equipped with the laser system, cooperates with tactical infrared sensors installed on board a Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tanker aircraft that can detect and passively track missiles.
When a tanker detects a rocket, it transmits its position to the two accompanying F-16 aircraft, and they can send a laser beam over the target to keep it at a distance and then neutralize it.
Lockheed Martin has committed to installing a defensive laser weapon on an aircraft within five years, according to FlightGlobal. Its airborne laser tactical weapon system could be used to shoot down air-to-air or ground-to-air missiles.
The high power laser will be powered by a set of batteries which in turn will be charged by the aircraft’s jet turbine.
Lockheed Martin declined to disclose the laser’s range and rate of fire, noting that these factors will depend on the target against which the US air force wants to defend itself.
The Americans are developing a plan to implement a laser weapon system for aircraft under the command of the US Air Force. Among them are the 5th generation aircraft, F-35.
The first tests regarding the implementation of laser weapons on US Air Force aircraft are expected to take place by 2021, so next year. The Americans intend to implement laser weapon systems initially on military transport aircraft such as C-17 and C-130, and later after the development of technology will be able to be equipped fighter aircraft such as F-15, F-16 and even F-35 – 5th generation airplanes.
The reason is that, given current technology, military transport aircraft are better configured to carry the energy needed by lasers. In addition to the program that aims to implement laser weapons on US Air Force aircraft, there is also a program that aims to implement these systems on drones.
Future laser weapons will come as a complement to the current armament, but should offer an advantage in terms of accuracy and cost.
In addition, the US Air Force secretly built and operated the first flight with the prototype of a sixth-generation aircraft that was developed as part of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program to ensure air dominance.
Future aircraft will be able to perform air operations at great distances from their bases and will have far superior performance to current fifth-generation (G5) aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor or F-35 Lightning II. In addition, the passive masking features successfully implemented in the US G5 aircraft programs will certainly be introduced for the new G6 aircraft, providing them with a low radiolocation footprint and allowing them to operate successfully within range. adverse radiolocation or anti-aircraft systems.
Sixth generation (G6) aircraft could be equipped with laser weapon systems whose power will be provided by the aircraft engines or stored in the on-board systems.
The new aircraft will cooperate with subsonic drones, allowing the pilot to send these unmanned aerial vehicles to dangerous areas where manned aircraft would be in danger.
An important requirement for future sixth-generation aircraft will be the ability to perform manned or unmanned aerial missions, with the option without staff involvement being mandatory in all ongoing G6 aircraft programs in Europe (SCAF and Tempest), Russia or China.
In addition to the massive use of artificial intelligence, the new G6 devices will be equipped with radio-photon radars and will be able to reach hypersonic speeds in the Earth’s atmosphere, but also in space.