- The weapons' light outputs can travel at the velocity of light.
- The weapons can be precisely targeted.
- Their energy output can be controlled -- high-power for lethal outcomes or cutting and low-power for nonlethal outcomes.
The Air Force has already developed three weapons systems that are being tested and, in some cases, used. These systems include the Airborne Laser (Advanced Tactical Laser), the PHaSR and the Active Denial System. Read on to find out how lasers and these weapons systems work. Solid-state lasers are one of several different types of laser-based weapons systems currently being developed by the Navy and other military services in conjunction with major defense contractors. The military has spent hundreds of millions on the development of the various systems, but once installed, the government predicts they will be relatively cheap to operate since they don't use conventional munitions.
A shot from a laser weapon is estimated to cost the Navy the equivalent of less than a dollar, compared to short-range air-defense interceptor missiles which cost between $800,000 and $1.4 million each.
Up until now one of the Navy's key concerns with lasers has been how to generate enough energy to fill the laser gun's magazine, however rear admiral Klunder says that it is no longer an issue. Boeing has also been making progress in other sorts of military laser weapons. Notably, the company was awarded a U.S. Navy contract to develop the Free Electron Laser weapon system to build an ultra-precise laser gun to defend U.S. ships.Also under development for the US Navy, the Mk 38 Mod 2 Machine Gun System (see picture) with Tactical Laser System soups up a gun already deployed worldwide with a solid-state, high energy laser weapon.Back in the RELI ring, Northrop Grumman has made some key forays forward in high-energy solid-state lasers. There are lots of different types of military lasers. The RELI program focuses on solid state ones - so called because they have a lasing medium that is solid crystal. Fiber lasers tend to need less power to operate and optical fibers provide nearly perfect quality beams. Rather than using mirrors that can become misaligned, this approach confines the light within the fiber's glass structure.