Get ready for some real pew pew, because Northrop Grumman has just announced that the first ever high-energy, solid-state lethal laser for actual war applications is now available for ordering. This means that you can pay now a few millions and get yours for Xmas. The new Firestrike units offer 15 kilowatts of power, but can be combined to offer 100 kilowatts of technological terror, capable of actually destroying the enemy. According to the company, this new laser "changes the game" of military engagement. Nobody would say by judging the neutral looks of it:
The FIRESTRIKE(tm) laser is a line replaceable system that allows for scaling a laser weapon to desired power levels for specific warfighting applications and platforms. Northrop Grumman believes that FIRESTRIKE(tm) laser will form the backbone of future laser weapon systems.
You can put together up to eight of these to achieve the maximum power available, although that would so much electric power that the military would have to mount them in tanks. Which, mind you, I bet it's exactly what they have in mind.
This is a big leap in laser weapons because, until now, the only effective way to get laser weapons to work with enough lethal power was using chemicals. These were extremely heavy and the whole firing process extremely hazardous. The solid-state laser in Firestrike is hard and very easy to manage, as it only requires electricity and has no by-products. It's also very rugged, according to Northrop's beam-cannon chief Dan Wildt:
This is a rugged electric laser with power levels, beam quality and runtime suitable for offensive and defensive military utility. Also available is a newly designed laser current source assembly (LCSA), which is compact, and specifically developed to precisely meet FIRESTRIKE(tm)'s power needs. Combined with advanced electro optical and/or infrared sensors, the FIRESTRIKE(tm) laser can provide self-defence, precision strike and enhanced situational awareness capabilities.
The lasers don't have to run intermittently either. There's no pew pew here. Just one long buzz that will last until it runs out of energy or coolant.
FIRESTRIKE(tm) Laser Features
Power: 15kW laser
Beam Quality: Nominally 1.5 times the diffraction limit
Size: Laser head - 12" x 23" x 40" (width, depth, height), Current source - 9" x 13" x 30"
Runtime: Continuous, as long as power and coolant are provided
Instant Turn-on: Zero to full power in less than 1/2 second
Safety_ Remote operation, customer interlock access, internal safety sensors
Control: Common Command and Control (C2) systems and Ethernet interfaces Low Power Setting Provides nominally 100 watt alignment beam Weight: 400 lbs per LRU
Ruggedization: Hardened LRUs with compact SSL technology engineered for mobility and field operations