Northrop Creates 100kW “Weapons Grade” Solid State Laser

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman recently announced that they have successfully created and tested a 100kW electric solid state laser. The 100kW threshold is important as it is considered powerful enough to be weapons-grade and is a major step-up from the single 15kW Firestrike Laser unit they developed last year.

While chemical laser systems such as those being developed by Boeing still out-power the electric variety, they are not very practical, requiring large quantities of toxic fuels.

Northrop reckons their solid state laser can be made even more powerful too thanks to its scalable design. The 100kW breakthrough itself was achieved by chaining seven smaller 15kW units together, proving that their design works not only in theory, but also in practice.

At 100kW, the level of light intensity achieved is comparable to focusing the light of 1,000 100W light globes on a small area. Work still needs to be done, however, to reduce the size and weight of the laser equipment – which is still too heavy and unwieldy to be practical on the battlefield. This is expected to take at least a few years and cost $100 million.

Check out the video below to see what the laser might look like in action.

Northrop Grumman’s laser weapon system demonstrator.

Northrop Grumman (Press Release) and LA Times and Wired


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