Lockheed Martin’s ATHENA successfully brings down UAVs during tests with US Army
In August, Lockheed Martin’s ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset) 30-kilowatt (KW) system successfully brought down five 10.8-inch wingspan Outlaw unmanned aerial systems (UAV) during tests conducted with the US Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command at their White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The system defeated airborne targets in flight by causing loss of control and structural failure.
ATHENA is a transportable, ground-based system that serves as a low-cost test bed for demonstrating technologies required for military use of laser weapon systems. It uses Lockheed Martin’s ALADIN, a system that uses a technique called ‘spectral beam combining’ to form a single, powerful, high quality beam from multiple fibre laser modules to provides greater efficiency and lethality than multiple individual 10KW lasers.
“The tests at White Sands against aerial targets validated our lethality models and replicated the results we’ve seen against static targets at our own test range,” said Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin’s Chief Technology Officer. “As we mature the technology behind laser weapon systems, we’re making the entire system more effective and moving closer to a laser weapon that will provide greater protection to our warfighters by taking on more sophisticated threats from a longer range.”
Lockheed Martin and the Army will conduct post mission reviews, and data collected will be used to further refine the system, improve model predictions and inform development of future laser systems. According to Paul Shattuck, Director and Chief Engineer of Directed Energy Systems at Lockheed Martin: “Practical and cost-effective directed energy systems can be integrated on existing land, sea and air platforms beginning in the 2020-25 timeframe following concerted technology maturation and demonstration efforts. Implementation factors include the pace of technology maturation for progressively higher level of energy-on-target, as well as rules of engagement that have yet to be developed.”
Dr. Alix Valenti