It was 38 years since the weapon with enough firepower to take out a planet, i.e. ‘The Death Star’ was mythically brought to our theatre screens in George Lucas’ iconic blockbuster, Star Wars.  Although that was pure science fiction, the field of laser weaponry is, in fact, very real, as the defence and aerospace firm Lockheed Martin has proved this week.

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Lockheed Martin announced a new fiber-optic laser weapon system, named ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset), which successfully took out a truck “from more than a mile away” in the course of recent field tests. 

The advanced ATHENA laser system uses a technique known as “spectral beam combining.” This involves merging multiple laser modules in order to create a single and ultra-powerful 30-kilowatt laser beam. The system is described as having the “highest power ever documented by a laser weapon of its type.”

Chief Technology Officer of Lockheed Martin, Keoki Jackson, said in a recent statement the ATHENA test “represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks.” 

Jackson continued: “Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems.

“We are investing in every component of the system – from the optics and beam control to the laser itself to drive size, weight and power efficiencies.”

The new technology is an advancement on the ADAM Laser system that Lockheed Martin have previously tested. ADAM, stands for Area Defence Anti-Munitions. The system is a self-contained unit that is designed to destroy attacks from unmanned aerial vehicles, or improvised ground to air rocket attacks. The system is being used to protect vulnerable assets such as military bases by acquiring and tracking short-range targets from a distance of 5 km (3.1 miles), and destroying from a range of up to 2 km (1.2 miles).

Ok, so it’s not a planet that the ATHENA system can destroy, but how long will it take before a massive laser weapon with enough firepower to destroy a building or even a town is created? It also begs the question, are the military and military contractors still thinking that peace will be achieved through superior firepower?

[Image via Lockheed Martin]

SOURCE: Huffington Post