Air Force Sees Fighters, Drones Firing Laser Weapons by 2020s

Air Combat Command has been researching laser technology with plans to mount a directed-energy weapon onto an existing fighter-style aircraft, and integrate it into a post-fifth generation fighter’s armament systems. The U.S. Air Force is currently testing methods to mount a laser weapon pod onto an F-15 Eagle. (Air Force Research Lab photo)Air Combat Command has been researching laser technology with plans to mount a directed-energy weapon onto an existing fighter-style aircraft, and integrate it into a post-fifth generation fighter’s armament systems. The U.S. Air Force is currently testing methods to mount a laser weapon pod onto an F-15 Eagle. (Air Force Research Lab photo)

The U.S. Air Force plans to eventually arm its fleet of drones and fighter jets with high-tech laser weapons able to incinerate enemy targets from the sky, service officials said.

Aircraft-launched laser weapons could be engineered for a wide range of potential uses, including air-to-air combat, close air support, counter-unmanned aerial system (or drone), counter-boat, ground attack and even missile defense — possibly within the next decade, officials said.

Lasers use intense heat and light energy to incinerate targets without causing a large explosion — and they operate at very high speeds, giving them a near instantaneous ability to destroy fast-moving targets and defend against incoming enemy attacks, according to Air Force Chief Scientist Dr. Greg Zacharias.

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Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.