fighter jets with lasers are closer than you might think.

The US Air Force want to be able to fire lasers from airborne platforms by 2023. Being tested later this year at White Sands, the HEL (High Energy
Laser) is what the Air Force hopes can be developed into a offensive as well as defensive weapon system that can eventually be fitted to a wide range
of craft from C-17’s to F-35’s.
They are working on better tracking of targets and hope to be able to defeat incoming missiles, or be able to hit small targets in a CAS role. The
weapon is said to be able to fire thousands of shots from just the energy stored in a few gallons of jet fuel.

The Air Force plans to be able to incinerate targets such as incoming missiles with laser weapons mounted on C-17s by 2023 as part of a
directed energy developmental effort, service official said.
The High Energy Laser, or HEL, is being tested by the Air Force Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. Ground tests are slated for
later this year as part of a plan to precede air-launched laser weapons firing evaluations, Mica Endsley, Air Force Chief Scientist, told
Military​.com in an interview.
The first ever ground test of the weapon is slated to take place at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., said Othana Zuch, an Air Force spokeswoman.
Service officials are working on a solid-state laser guidance mechanism and focus so the weapon can stay on track on a particular target.
“We’re working on maturing a lot of those kinds of technologies,” Endsley said. “We will be transitioning into airborne platforms to get them
ready to go into a program of record by 2023.”

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“We want to put those capabilities in to a system that will move from something like 10 kilowatts up to 100 kilowatts — up to greater
power. We will work on things like guidance, control and precision,” she said.
Energy to fire aircraft lasers is engineered to come from on-board jet fuel to potentially enable thousands of shots, Endsley added.
“The real advantage is it would have a much more extended magazine. Today’s have five, six, seven missiles. With a directed energy weapon you
could have thousands of shots with a gallon of gasoline – a gallon of jet fuel,” she said.


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