Military tanks fitted with lethal lasers? Apparently, that’s no longer just a work of the imagination.
And according to this press release, the supposed laser is definitely no joke. Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global defense and technology company, is the group behind the laser device, and claims that the "ruggedized, high-energy, solid-state laser designed as a line replaceable unit (LRU) for battlefield applications" is now ready for order. While the company does not offer pricing on such a device in the press release (a couple million each at best), it does state that the laser is customizable, utilizing a combinable LRU building block scheme to increase the laser’s default power and dish out a lethal dose of destructive energy.
"This is a rugged electric laser with power levels, beam quality, and runtime suitable for offensive and defensive military utility," said aid Dan Wildt, vice president of Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology sector. "Also available is a newly designed laser current source assembly (LCSA), which is compact, and specifically developed to precisely meet FIRESTRIKE(tm)’s power needs. Combined with advanced electro optical and/or infrared sensors, the FIRESTRIKE laser can provide self-defense, precision strike and enhanced situational awareness capabilities."
Wildt also commented that the FIRESTRIKE was hardened for military uses, keeping field replacement in mind, designing the laser for on-the-go switch outs as well as expanding the life-cycle of each unit, keeping costs down for the consumer. Because the laser is scalable, wattages can be changed in 15kw increments to accommodate current warfighting missions and/or platforms, shooting up towards a deadly 90kw.
According to the specs, the beam quality is nominally 1.5 times the diffraction limit. The size of the laser head is 12" x 23" x 40" (width, depth, height) and will remain continuous as long as power and coolant are provided. The laser can be operated remotely and features an Ethernet interface. Northrop Grumman believes that FIRESTRIKE laser will form the backbone of future laser weapon systems.
FIRESTRIKE is one of the first lasers to work without the use of chemicals, requiring electricity and emitting no by-products as seen with older laser devices. Whether or not this device is a good thing for America has yet to be seen, however if found in the wrong hands, the FIRESTRIKE device might make for a lethal, unstoppable enemy. But because the laser is continuous, there is no rapid fire, thus soldiers won’t be running around shooting Sandpeople with blasters. And when cranked up to 90kw, the only military vehicle that can power such a device is a tank, perhaps even a MRAP armored vehicle.
Still, a lethal laser that can reach full power in less than a second may cause Northrop Grumman’s stock to rise and the phones to ring off the hooks. "We are ready to deliver on the promise of defense at the speed of light with FIRESTRIKE," Wildt said.
Welcome to the end of mankind, folks.