WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Northrop Grumman will develop a laser beam control system for the Air Force Research Laboratory which will ultimately be housed in a pod attached to a fighter aircraft with flight testing expected by 2019, the defense giant said in a press release.
“Our Northrop Grumman-led team is integrating an innovative beam director with proven beam control technologies to help the Air Force define and successfully demonstrate a laser weapon capability for current and next generation aircraft,” Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems directed energy vice president Mark Skinner said on Tuesday.
As the high energy laser beam propagates through the air to a target, atmospheric turbulence degrades the quality of the beam and reduces its effectiveness. The beam control system senses atmospheric disturbances that could distort the laser beam, acquires and tracks incoming targets, determines an aim point for the laser, then “shapes” and focuses the outgoing beam on the target.
LASER is the acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. LASER's are commonplace in bar code scanning, manufacturing and communications.