Blasting The Air In Front Of Hypersonic Vehicles With Lasers Could Unlock Unprecedented Speeds

September 25, 2020

Over the last decade, two of the most significant topics in defense research and development have been directed energy systems and hypersonic weapons. The Department of Defense and its major contractors have been pushing the boundaries of what is possible with these technologies and those efforts could, someday soon, literally change the face of warfare forever.

As it turns out, these two cutting-edge areas of defense research are beginning to converge in laboratories, with the goal of enabling unprecedented levels of speed for aerial weapons. By combining advanced directed-energy technology with the latest in hypersonic-vehicle design, researchers in private and Department of Defense (DoD)-funded laboratories have laid the groundwork for systems designed to literally sheathe an entire vehicle in laser and/or microwave-induced plasma, in order to drastically reduce drag. If successfully developed, this concept may someday lead to new frontiers in speed and radical new forms of aerodynamic control and aircraft design…


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