Lockheed Martin’s ATHENA laser defense system destroys drones in swarm attack (vid)

A laser defense system, designed an built by Lockheed Martin, burned several flying drones out of the sky at army base in Oklahoma, demonstrating it can handle multiple threats per engagement.

The U.S. military is pushing to develop laser weapons as a counter to the threat of drone swarms against military bases, especially air bases, where a single drone can do a lot of damage against multi-million dollar aircraft.

Advanced Test High Energy Asset, or ATHENA, is a 30 kilowatt laser weapon system that uses the 30 kilowatt Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN) laser. ALADIN combines the power of three 10 kilowatt fiber lasers into a single 30 kilowatt beam.

The use of multiple lasers means it can also operate at lower levels, say 10 or 20 kilowatts, if necessary. Thirty kilowatts is sufficient to inflict structural damage against drones, causing them to fall out of the sky.

Lasers are concentrated beams of light that transmit large amounts of electromagnetic radiation, expressed in kilowatts, against their target.

Pointed at a target, the laser causes rapid heating on the surface. This can cause objects to melt and fuel tanks to ignite. A drone can fail structurally, falling out of the sky, or burst into flames.