Lasers hold a great deal of promise for the
battlefield – they are able to strike at the speed of light giving a better
chance of hitting a fast moving target on short notice on the battlefield.
The U.S. Navy has been working on a laser system
that will eventually be mounted on ships to replace the rapid firing cannons
that are designed to shoot down missiles and other threats at close range. A
laser system to replace the rapid-fire guns has been in development by the Navy
since the 1980's reports Military.com,
and the laser system has hit a new milestone.
The goal of the Navy missile program is to create
with one megawatt of power. Last month, the research teams working on the
project at the Los Alamos National Lab demonstrated that they could create
lasers with the power needed for the Navy. A preliminary review of the program
began last week and is being conducted by the Office of Naval Research.
Dinh Nguyen, senior project leader for the Free
Electron Laser program said, "Until now, we didn't have the evidence to
support our models."
The research team used a new injector design to
shoot electrons through a series of magnetic fields and was able to generate
the power needed for a viable weapon. The laser program is called the
free-electron laser of FEL.
Office of Naval Research program manager Quentin
Saulter said, "The FEL is expected to provide future U.S. Naval forces
with a near-instantaneous laser ship defense in any maritime environment
throughout the world."
The laser began as a 14-kilowatt prototype, and the
research team then moved on to producing a 100-kilowatt laser. The test with
the new injector has put the research team 9-months ahead of its 2011 testing
The U.S. Air force is also working on laser
systems that will be mounted inside aircraft to destroy missiles in flight. The
Air Force ended
development of an airborne chemical laser early last year in favor of