Drones Armed With High-Energy Lasers May Arrive In 2017 [VIDEO]
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., or GA–ASI, the San Diego-based company that makes the Predator and Reaper drones, is undertaking a privately funded study to integrate a 150-kilowatt solid-state laser onto its Avenger (née Predator-C) drone. If the company succeeds, a drone with a high-energy laser will be a reality at some point in 2017, company executives told Defense One.
“We’re funded right now to develop a laser module compatible with the aircraft and study putting it on the Avenger,” Michael Perry, Vice President for Mission Systems atGA–ASI, told Defense One. “We hope to be funded to do that,” he said.
The company is far better known for its MQ-1s and MQ-9s — the backbones of the Pentagon’s drone strike force — than for its work with lasers. But in June, the companydelivered a 150-kilowatt liquid laser to the Pentagon for extensive testing at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. For comparison, the 30 kw laser (output) currentlyon the Ponce in the Persian Gulf has more than enough output to destroy an enemy drone or blow a hole in a boat. In addition to 5 times the power, the significant increase in beam quality provides significantly higher lethality than the system on the Ponce.