The U.S. military has been working to develop laser weapons. With Lockheed Martin's latest Advanced Test High Energy Asset, or ATHENA, weapon, the capability could come sooner rather than later.
The world's largest defense company recently tested the prototype laser system, which brought down five Outlaw drones at the Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, it said in a release Wednesday. The drones have a wingspan of 10.8 feet.
In a series of videos, the Outlaw unmanned aerial vehicles are seen going down one by one after the fiber laser, equipped with advanced beam control technology, fires at them.
"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," Jackson said in the release.
Lockheed has partnered with the U.S. Army's Space and Missile Defense Command for ATHENA (also the name of the Greek goddess of war).
The weapon -- fully funded by Lockheed -- uses the company's 30-kilowatt Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative (ALADIN), which "provides great efficiency and lethality in a design that scales to higher power levels," the release said. It is also powered by a compact Rolls-Royce turbo generator.
Officials added that Lockheed and the Army will conduct post-mission reviews. The data collected will be used "to further refine the system, improve model predictions and inform development of future laser systems," the release said.
Check out the video here: