The US Air Force will test this summer a new 50-kilowatt military laser, which will be installed on the all-weather fighter of the fourth generation F-15 Eagle.
The US Department of Defense will test combat lasers for military aviation as part of a project to develop a high-energy defensive laser called SHiELD (Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator). However, the US military does not hide the fact that combat lasers will be used not only for self-defense purposes, but also for the destruction of other aircraft and ground targets.
The laser has a significant advantage over the traditional types of weapons in the form of virtually unlimited ammunition and the low cost of a single shot. The tender for developing weapons within the framework of the SHiELD project was won by the American company Lockheed Martin. The Pentagon expects to get efficient work from the laser when flying at subsonic, transonic and supersonic speeds.
The laser installation is already ready, but developers need to solve several tasks related to reducing its size, weight and power consumption. Weapons will begin to be tested on the ground this summer, and flight tests should start in 2019 – the military will determine the effectiveness of a combat laser on a fighter for the destruction of unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles.