Lockheed Martin last month delivered the most powerful laser it has ever built to the Pentagon, a 300-kilowatt system. A month earlier, it delivered the first tactical laser suitable for use in layered defense of U.S. warships. And earlier this year, it joined with Rolls Royce in demonstrating a compact 100-kilowatt laser capable of downing cruise missiles. It seems the time is fast approach when beam weapons will become part of the joint force’s active arsenal. This is a welcome development, because as overhead threats proliferate, the practicality of addressing each one with interceptor missiles is becoming doubtful. Lasers present a more affordable option that engages attackers at the speed of light and has an inexhaustible magazine. The day may come when Russia’s nuclear threat lose much of their force because U.S. laser weapons in low-earth orbit can reliably engage them only seconds after launch. This is precisely the kind of transformational technology that Lockheed should be pursuing as it seeks to build the foundation for 21st century security. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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