The US Air Force is getting closer and closer to the target of using laser weapons to equip fighters. Testers at the Baisha Missile Range used the “self-protection high-energy laser demonstrator” to successfully shoot down multiple air-launched missiles. Although it is currently a behemoth on the ground, the final product technology should be portable and can be installed on an aircraft to protect it from attack.
For the time being, the technology will not be used in the air. The U.S. Air Force only signed a contract with Lockheed Martin in 2017, and will not start the first air test until sometime in 2021. It may take some time before the system is put into use.
If the technology operates as envisaged, it could have a huge impact on combat aircraft. green laser pointer are not an offensive weapon, at least not for now. Instead, it will be used to shoot down missiles (air-to-air and surface-to-air). As long as nothing interferes with the laser, the aircraft will hardly be threatened by missile attacks, but the weather may potentially affect its effectiveness.
Laser weapons will break the balance of modern defense. In 2017, a US military ally detected an unusual threat: a small quadcopter was approaching. This kind of drone is priced at US$200 online, and everyone can buy it. In the end, the drone was shot down by a Patriot missile worth 3 million. The threat was wiped out, but it was not cheap. This incident highlights a problem facing the global armed forces today: How can we best defend against a new generation of weapons?
Science and technology are developing rapidly, and modern warfare technology is also developing rapidly. The current threats are advanced in technology, relatively low cost, small in scale and lethal. Using the most expensive missiles to deal with hundreds of cheap drones is not a sustainable strategy. The new defense measures use artificial intelligence to help decision makers respond to potential threats at tactical speed-data and predictive analysis and swarms of drones.
Energy-guided weapons and laser pointer weapon systems are a proven solution that effectively solves technology-driven threats and has more accurate, more flexible and more economical performance than traditional ballistics. Dr. Rob Afzal, Senior Researcher of Laser and Sensor Systems at Lockheed Martin, said: “They are designed to be precise, produce minimal collateral damage, and essentially provide endless ammunition. As long as you have Energy, you can shoot-when you have to face a large number of low-cost distributed threats, this is a vital weapon, such as a group of drones, each carrying a small explosive.