U.S. Army To Field Most Powerful Laser Weapon: A 250-300 kW laser will be ten times more powerful than existing laser weapons. The US military is moving forward with the most powerful laser weapon project ever.
The Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL) will be a 250 to 300 kW weapon, which is 10 times more powerful than the US Navy’s laser weapon system. The power boost should be enough to destroy targets as large as incoming cruise missiles.
The U.S. military is pushing for lasers on a large scale, pushing all three major services – military, navy, and air force – to deliver them to ground vehicles, ships, and aircraft. The main appeal of lasers is their fast reaction time, literally the speed of light, and their ability to fire large numbers of bullets without storing bullets, missiles, or shells.
Lasers rely on electrical power instead, and as long as there is electricity to power the weapon, it can crank theoretically endless shots. “Ammunition” is basically the cost of generator fuel or about ً 10 per shot.
Earlier this year, the military was trying to develop a 100-kilowatt laser weapon, according to Breaking Defense. Now, just months later, the service target is 250 to 300 kWh. The military is still interested in weapons to engage enemy drones and drone riders – IFPC-HEL will be powerful enough to shoot down incoming cruise missiles.
300 kW is only ten times more than the current operational laser weapon LAWS. The LAWS, or laser weapon system, was a $ 40 million, 30-kilowatt laser installed in 2014 at the USS Ponce. Although never apparently used in the operation, LaWS served as a warning to blind enemy forces, shoot down drones, deactivate boats, or damage helicopters.
Lasers, as the Breaking Defense points out, are more like sunlight focused on a magnifying glass than a pew of light. Lower power lasers may need to focus on the target for several seconds, while larger lasers do faster damage with faster pulses. Meanwhile, targets such as cruise missiles are loaded with guidance systems, warheads, fuel, and turbojet engines. A laser pulse can fry the guidance system, explode a warhead or fuel tank, or damage the engine. In turn, it can damage the missile’s body and wings, causing it to become aerodynamically unstable and crash-prone.
The new laser will be installed on the truck and will likely be accompanied by a generator vehicle with plenty of diesel fuel. The firing position on the high ground will allow him to hit the targets as much as possible before he can threaten the allied forces.
The first platoon of four firing vehicles will enter service in 2024.