Air Weapons: January 27, 2003


Raytheon is working on laser weapons to arm the newest fighter planes, and plans to have a workable weapon available to mount in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by 2010. The new solid-state lasers are proving far better than the older chemical lasers, but by the time these are ready Raytheon may have an even better weapon, a fiber-optic laser. Such a weapon would have a single laser generator somewhere in the aircraft but would "duct" the laser pulses through fiber optics to various points on the aircraft. With the flip of a switch, the pilot could switch his laser from a forward-pointing dogfight weapon to a side-pointing anti-ground weapon or a rear-firing missile defense weapon.--Stephen V Cole


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