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Air Force Eyes Laser Weapon System for Warfighting Arsenal

The U.S. Air Force looks to integrate the use of high-energy laser weapon systems into the service branch’s warfighting arsenal, AFCEA International reported Wednesday.

The Air Force Special Operations Command will start to assess a complete laser system for the AC-130J Ghostrider gunship which will feature a beam control system, beam director, casing, power supply and cooling system.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, said the service branch works to develop and utilize laser weapon technologies as part of the directed energy flight plan signed in May.

Bill Lane, chief of the strike and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance division at AFSOC, said the first phase of the tests will be performed through the end of fiscal year 2019 while the second phase, which involves an operationally representative demonstration of a large laser prototype, will be conducted through fiscal 2022.

The report noted laser weapons provide a capacity to help engage adversaries at the speed of light, minimize the risk of interception and detection, reduce potential collateral damage, perform covert attack missions as well as support both lethal and nonlethal applications.

Booz Allen Hamilton will work to help the service branch acquire, aim, track and fire a high-energy laser onboard a tactical aircraft that flies at transonic and supersonic speeds while Lockheed Martin will assist AFSOC on the demonstration of a laser weapon system on the AC-130J Ghostrider gunship.

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