A laser hits its target in an instant. Getting to a practical laser weapon can feel like it’s taking an eternity.

This week brought signs of progress, one from the US Army and the other from defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Both involved laser weapons still a long way from being battlefield-ready.

The more momentous news came from Lockheed, which on Thursday said that it has wrapped up development and testing of a nearly 60-kilowatt fiber laser for the Army. That’s double the power of a system the company showed off two years ago that it said disabled a truck from a mile away.

Those Lockheed systems got their juice by combining multiple lower-power fiber-optic lasers to produce a single, higher-power beam, a method that promises a relatively straightforward path to ever more powerful weapons. In the case of Lockheed’s newer laser, the output was a single beam of 58KW, what the company called “a world record for a laser of this type.”

Lockheed did not immediately provide additional details on the new laser.


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Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

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