The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, said it’s on track to demonstrate a working laser weapon on a fighter jet by 2020. “It really is a national tipping point,” said Kelly Hammett, chief engineer for the AFRL’s directed energy directorate.
“We see the technology evolving and maturing to the stage where it really can be used.” Arming larger planes with laser weapons has been possible for years.
But the more difficult challenge is to create lasers small, accurate and powerful enough for fighter jets, Hammett said. The g-forces and vibrations of near supersonic speeds make that tough. Hammett said he thinks those hurdles can be overcome within five years.