| Pentagon unveils laser capable of shooting down drones, mortars!

Pentagon unveils laser capable of shooting down drones, mortars ~ RT.

The US Army has successfully used a vehicle-mounted laser to shoot down numerous mortar rounds and drone aircraft for the first time.

Taking place over the course of several weeks, the test involved destroying more than 90 incoming mortar rounds and multiple drones. Eventually, the Army hopes to test an even more advanced laser system that could shoot down more dangerous weapons, such as incoming cruise missiles.

Named the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), the current version of the weapon features three to five lasers that can be attached to the top of a military vehicle in a dome-like turret structure. According to Terry Bauer, the Army’s program manager for the weapon at Boeing, when the HEL MD hits a target like a mortar, it heats up the insides to the point that the mortar explodes in mid-air.

“It falls as a single piece of metal with a little bit of shrapnel. It basically falls where it was going to fall, but it doesn’t explode when it hits the ground,” Bauer said to the Christian Science Monitor“We turn it into a rock, basically.”

When it comes to shooting down drones, the laser can be used to blind an unmanned vehicle’s cameras and take apart its tail, causing the whole thing to come crashing down to earth.

The Army hopes to use the laser to protect bases that come under fire from mortar and rocket attacks. This happened frequently during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Monitor reported that the cheap cost of using lasers would make the weapons a sensible choice for the Pentagon.

Still, officials said it is unlikely that the HEL MD will be ready for combat use before 2022, as the Army is moving to test more advanced versions over the coming years. The current system is equipped with a laser with the strength of 10 kilowatts, but future versions will be outfitted with 50- and 100-kilowatt lasers.

“If you’re engaging a target at the same range, a 100 kW laser will destroy the target in one-tenth of the time than the 10kW would,” Bauer told AFP.

The HEL MD is just one of the laser-equipped weapons being developed by the United States military. As RT reported in November, the Department of Defense is looking into attaching high-powered lasers to its next-generation fighter jets, which would be capable of tracking and disarming enemy sensors, destroying incoming missile attacks, and going on the offensive.

Meanwhile, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced in October its plans to develop drone-mounted laser systems that would be able to shoot missiles down from the sky.

High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) (Image from army.mil)

High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) (Image from army.mil)

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| SR-72: New Hypersonic Spy Plane Being Developed by Lockheed Martin!

New Hypersonic Spy Plane Being Developed by Lockheed Martin ~ Denise Chow, Staff Writer, LiveScience.

 

Lockheed Martin's SR-72 Hypersonic Spy Plane

Lockheed Martin is developing a hypersonic spy plane, called the SR-72, that will be able to fly at Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound.
Credit: Lockheed Martin Corp.

A new hypersonic spy plane, capable of flying up to six times faster than the speed of sound, is being developed by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp., according to company officials.

The new aircraft, known as the SR-72, is the unmanned successor to Lockheed’s SR-71 Blackbird, a twin-engine, two-seater, supersonic aircraft that was developed in the 1960s. The company’s new spy plane will be able to fly twice as fast as the Blackbird and three times faster than current fighter jets, accelerating to Mach 6, which is six times thespeed of sound, or more than 3,500 mph (5,600 km/h).

The hypersonic SR-72 also will be able to fly to any location within an hour, which could be revolutionary for the military, said Brad Leland, Lockheed Martin’s program manager for hypersonics. [In Photos: The 10 Fastest Military Airplanes]

“Hypersonic is the new stealth,” Leland told Reuters. “Your adversaries cannot hide or move their critical assets. They will be found. That becomes a game-changer.”

Furthermore, Lockheed is designing the spy plane using existingtechnology, which could help the company develop a prototype in five or six years for under $1 billion, he added.

Lockheed is aiming to fly a missile to demonstrate thenew technology as early as 2018, and Leland said operational SR-72s could be in service by 2030, according to Aviation Week, which was first to report on the new project.

“What we are doing is defining a missile that would have a small incremental cost to go at hypersonic speed,” Leland told Reuters.

The SR-72 is being developed by Skunk Works, Lockheed’s California-based advanced research program that previously worked on the SR-71 Blackbird and the famed U-2 spy plane.

The hypersonic SR-72 will feature a two-phase propulsion system, which uses a basic jet turbine to accelerate the plane to Mach 3. Lockheed is collaborating with rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne to incorporate this turbine with an air-breathing, supersonic ramjet engine to propel the vehicle from standstill to Mach 6.

The new spy plane will build upon Lockheed’s previous experimental hypersonic programs, such as the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, or HTV-2, which was developed as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency‘s (DARPA’s) Falcon Project.

In 2011, the unmanned, arrow-shaped HTV-2 glider reached Mach 20 and controlled itself for approximately three minutes, before crashing into the Pacific Ocean. During the flight, surface temperatures on the vehicle reached 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,930 degrees Celsius), which is hotter than a blast furnace capable of melting steel.

The SR-72’s predecessor, the SR-71 Blackbird, could accelerate to Mach 3.3 (more than 2,200 mph, or 3,540 km/h) at an altitude of 80,000 feet (24,400 m). The Blackbird made its first flight in December 1964, and was flown by the U.S. Air Force until 1998. The two-seater aircraft was capable of outracing potential threats during reconnaissance missions, including being able to accelerate and out-fly surface-to-air missiles if it was detected.

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