USAF to begin testing the first laser on a fighter jet

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin has announced that it has delivered the first LANCE airborne laser system to the US Air Force Research Laboratory. 

LANCE (Laser Advancement for Next Generation Compact Environment), which is part of the SHiELD initiative to develop direct energy weapons on USAF aircraft, has been in development since 2017. 

The delivery was announced by the company during the run up to the Farnborough Air Show, according to a report by Breaking Defense.  

LANCE is designed as a podded system intended to be mounted on combat aircraft and capable of shooting down missiles and light aircraft. 

A promotional video from Lockheed Martin, published in 2020, depicts concept images of a LANCE pod mounted on F-16 and F-35 fighters. In the video, the jets are shown using the LANCE to shoot down anti-aircraft and cruise missiles.  

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is tasked with developing and integrating the technologies intended to be used by the USAF. 

Neither the USAF nor Lockheed Martin revealed how soon the service expects to adopt the LANCE for widespread use. 

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