Northrop Grumman has given the US government a small, tough laser named the Phantom. This points toward future laser weapons that are not just strong, but also small and tough enough for battle.
The military finds lasers very interesting because they could change the game. They can hit targets super fast and each shot costs only a dollar. Until now, people focused on making the laser beam strong enough, getting it on target, and controlling it over long distances.
But the Phantom deals with another side of these weapons. Even if a laser is powerful and works well, it’s useless if it’s huge and delicate. Imagine something that looks like an old radio mixed with a construction set and weighs tons.
The Phantom’s power isn’t as much as some others, but it’s compact. It’s as small as 12 cubic feet and weighs less than 200 pounds. Two people can easily carry and set it up. It can handle rough treatment too.
The Phantom isn’t a full laser weapon, it’s like a laser maker. It needs power, targeting optics, and focusing optics to become a proper weapon.
The challenge now is to make small lasers tougher while also making strong lasers smaller. When these two things come together, you’ll have a real laser weapon.
Robert Fleming, from Northrop Grumman, says they’re making advanced technology smaller to help the military. They’re using their skills to give soldiers a small, light, and efficient laser.
“By miniaturizing this advanced capability, we are expanding the reach of our technology and continuing to lead the way in high-energy lasers,” says Robert Fleming, vice president and general manager, strategic space systems. “Northrop Grumman is using its expertise in directed energy to deliver an extremely compact, lightweight and efficient laser for the war fighter.”