Army seeks to move power of laser weapons from kilowatts to terawatts to destroy targets with quick pulses

May 18, 2021
The basic difference between continuous-wave and 200 femtosecond laser pulses is the instantaneous peak power of about one terawatt.

CITY, state – The U.S. Army wants deadlier laser weapons that won’t just burn a target, but rather will slice it up. The National Interest reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

18 May 2021 -- Instead of low-power continuous-wave lasers that emit a steady stream of energy, the Army wants pulsed lasers that shoot intermittent but intense bursts that can quickly destroy a target. Pulsed lasers are already used commercially for precision cutting and etching.

How big a difference will this make? Consider this: the Army plans to mount 50-kilowatt continuous-wave laser weapons on Stryker armored vehicles by 2023. A kilowatt is 1,000 Watts. The Army now wants to develop tactical ultrashort pulsed lasers with minimum peak power of one terawatt and a maximum of five terawatts. A terawatt is a trillion Watts.

What makes laser weapons effective is how long the beam has to remain focused on the target. The ability to deliver a quick, intense burst of energy on a moving target is vital. While continuous-wave lasers can be useful, lasers with pulse widths in femtoseconds provide tactical capabilities due to their rapid discharge of enormous power, Army officials say.

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John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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