The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) announced that it’s developing a working laser weapon that it plans on strapping to an F-15 by 2020. If all goes as planned, this will be a monumental shift in the way pilots engage in warfare in just five short years.
This is not a thing of today. In the past, the Air Force strapped a prototype attack laser onto a 747-400 freighter aircraft (dubbed the YAL-1) after decades long development and ground testing. In 2007, the YAL-1 successfully fired a low-powered laser at an airborne object. In 2010, the YAL-1 intercepted a test target using a high-powered laser.
As per experts, it is much easier to install a laser weapon on a large aircraft than to strap one onto a wee little fighter jet like the F-15 Eagle. According to AFRL chief engineer Kelly Hammett, the primary hurdle lies with developing a laser small, accurate, and powerful enough for a jet while avoiding the g-force and vibration interference caused by supersonic speeds. Furthermore, Hammett believes this obstacle is but a temporary hindrance, going so far as to say the problem will be solved within five years.
“It really is a national tipping point,” Hammett tells CNN. “We see the technology evolving and maturing to the stage where it really can be used.”
At present, the Air Force is gearing up to test its laser weapon for an F-15 Eagle fighter Jet. According to Hammett, the USAF intends to a solid state laser, a variation which relies on sending energy into a solid crystalline material to manufacture beams of lasers. Outside of the production process, these lasers function like any other. A solid state laser is composed of extremely high temperature, concentrated beams of light capable of incinerating an intended target.
It will be incredible advantage to have fighter jets armed with laser weapons. People who are associated with the military researcher consider it as a good defense tactic. Speaking at the 2015 Air and Space Conference earlier this year, Air Force Lieutenant General Bradley Heithold explicitly stated he’d like to have a laser equipped to an AC-130 (variant of the C-130) gunship solely for its defensive capability.
The AFRL is also developing a purely defensive laser technology to be used as a shield. This new technology will create a 360-degree laser bubble around an aerial object during a conflict and has the capability of destroying or incapacitating anything that enters into its circle.
While the new technology will offer some benefits to the U.S. Armed Forces, there exist many issues surrounding the legality of using lasers in warfare. A treaty issued by the United Nations in 1995 prohibits the use of laser weapons .
Source: Yahoo News