Army building its first operational ray gun?

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Lockheed Martin has begun production on a laser weapon designed to be mounted to U.S. Army vehicles.

The ATHENA laser can be operated by a single person and is made up of multiple fiber laser modules, which not only allows for greater flexibility, but also lessens the chance of the weapon being knocked out by a minor malfunction, so frequent repairs aren’t required. Lockhead Martin also says that the modular design means that the laser power can be varied across an extremely wide range to suit specific mission needs. Using off-the-shelf commercial fiber laser components to keep down costs, the modules can be linked together to produce lasers of up to 120 kW.

ATHENA was tested in March when it took out a pickup truck with a sustained 30 kW burst.

While stun and disintegration ray guns seem cool in science fiction, in battle something as complex and as cutting edge as this is likely not be be very practical. New technology needs a lot of testing to make its workings robust, something that is essential in the harsh conditions of battle. To me, this sounds more like pork, government money being wasted to keep people employed.


  • Chops

    Where did you get the idea that the ATHENA system is pork and is “government money being wasted” ? The article you linked only mentions LM….

  • I see it as possible pork because I don’s see this as a practical or viable weapon for use in war, at least not for a very long time. For Lockheed Martin to claim, as the article makes it seem they are claiming, that this laser cannon is going to be operational seems absurd to me.

    The research might be worthwhile. The engineering knowledge gained might be useful. The project itself and its cost I question however.

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