Defense contractor Lockheed Martin says it has solved one of the key problems facing the military’s plans for high-powered airborne laser weapons, by counteracting the atmospheric turbulence that prevents a laser from having the ability to fire in all directions.
The Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control (ABC) turret, developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory, is the first to demonstrate a full 360-degree range on an aircraft traveling near the speed of sound, Lockheed announced. Using a business jet as a test bed, the company said it has demonstrated the prototype turret’s capability in nearly 60 flight tests last year and this year.
In typical circumstances, turbulence would prevent an aircraft traveling near the speed of sound from firing anywhere but right in front of it. ABC minimizes the turbulence’s impact by using the latest aerodynamic and flow-control technology, enabling the laser to fire in any direction, Lockheed said.