December 6, 2012
The Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) system is Lockheed Martin’s newest laser weapon that tracks targeted improvised rocket or unmanned aerial craft using a beam control and software to destroy identified enemy fire at a range just short of a mile.
ADAM is ground-based, transportable and self-contained. It can use external radar to detect drones and engage enemy missiles within seconds of a locked-in object. Once ADAM declares “a valid aim point, it fires the laser on the target long enough to negate the rocket” or drone.
Last month, Lockheed Martin recounted that testing for ADAM was successful. Doug Graham, vice president of advanced programs for Strategic and Missile Defense Systems at Lockheed Martin, stated: “Lockheed Martin has invested in the development of the ADAM system because of the enormous potential effectiveness of high-energy lasers. We are committed to supporting the transition of directed energy’s revolutionary capability to the war fighter.”
Paul Shattuck, director of directed energy systems for Strategic and Missile Defense Systems at Lockheed Martin explained: “Lockheed Martin has applied its expertise as a laser weapon system integrator to provide a practical and affordable defense against serious threats to military forces and installations. In developing the ADAM system, we combined our proven laser beam control architecture with commercial hardware to create a capable, integrated laser weapon system.”
Shattuck has perfected the development of military uses to high energy lasers and has been integral in the creation of “strategic and tactical applications including missile defense and aircraft self-defense.” He is responsible for the advancement of “programs involving adaptive and electro-optical beam control/fire control systems, illuminator lasers and fiber lasers, and integration of complex weapons systems on a variety of platforms.”
In April of 2013, the Directed Energy Professional Society (DEPS) will host the Directed Energy Systems Symposium. For the past 8 years, the DEPS have met to discuss “ideas and to focus on near term demonstrations of DE technology.”
Not all of the talks at the Symposium will be open to the public. Restrictions to access to the DEPS will be limited “to U.S. citizens with security clearances, who are employees of the U.S. Government or its contractors.”
Some of those who sponsor the DEPS and are expected to attend:
• Lockheed Martin
• Northrop Grumman
In 2008, DARPA’s High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program was designed to “develop a 150 kilowatt (kW) laser weapon system that is ten times smaller and lighter than current lasers of similar power, enabling integration onto tactical aircraft to defend against and defeat ground threats.”
HELLADS proposed the use of “high-energy lasers to be integrated onto tactical aircraft, significantly increasing engagement ranges compared to ground-based systems.” Laboratory testing showed great success and the final phase of the program included the creation of a “second laser module [to] be built and combined with the first module to generate 150 kW of power.” This took place at White Sands Missile Range where HELLADS was pitted against “rockets, mortars, surface-to-air missiles and to conduct simulated air-to-ground offensive missions.”
Textron Defense Systems (TDS), weapons developer, was given $21 million by DARPA “to design, fabricate and test a Unit Cell Module for a 150 kilowatt (kW) Laser Weapon System.” TDS prides itself on providing its “customers” with “precision, power and protection through innovative air-and ground-based smart weapons; directed energy weapons; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, systems; and protection systems.”
DARPA has advanced the technology of laser-powered weapons to “fit under the wing of a fighter jet or piggyback on a vehicle to zap anything from ground-to-air and air-to-air missiles to rocket-propelled grenades.”
In 2009, Boeing proudly released limited information about the success of its Laser Avenger System that utilized “a combat vehicle [that] used a laser to shoot down a UAV.”
At the White Sands Missile Range, Boeing affirmed that the directed-energy weapon could burn a hole into “a critical flight control element of the UAV, rendering the aircraft unflyable.”
Laser Avenger was designed to disable aerial long-range missiles by directing a heat source to a targeted “weak” point, then causing the outer casing to rupture in mid-air. Precision technology allows the system to direct the beam of energy with environmental corrections such as dust or atmospheric disturbances. Using forward-looking infrared cameras, the system can work independently and fire upon a target once identified. The system “zooms in” and uses advanced UAV tracking algorithms to distinguish the target under heavily obscured battle conditions.