How Lasers Could Make the F-35 More Effective

How Lasers Could Make the F-35 More Effective image
September 14, 2016 | Source: George Leopold, Defensesystems.com

As the Air Force completed a month-long series of F-35 weapon tests, the Marine Corps is lobbying to add laser weapons to its version of the costly multi-role fighter.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, the Marine Corps' deputy commandant of combat development and integration, told reporters this week that directed energy weapons would lighten the fighter aircraft's load by reducing the amount of "kinetic ordnance" and fuel the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 would have to carry.

The trick will be miniaturizing current lasers to fit in aircraft while ramping up power output. Walsh said the Marines and the Office of Naval Research recently tested a 10-kilowatt laser mounted on a vehicle. A future test of a mobile laser would boost the power to 30 kilowatt, he said.

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