How do you keep a bomber platform that’s well over a half century old current and effective? With frickin’ laser beams, of course.
Air Force scientists are working to arm the B-52 with defensive laser weapons able to incinerate attacking air-to-air or air-to-ground missile attack.
Offensive and defensive laser weapons for Air Force fighter jets and large cargo aircraft have been in development for several years now. However, the Air Force Research Lab has recently embarked upon a special five-year effort, called the SHIELD program, aimed at creating sufficient on-board power, optics and high-energy lasers able to defend large platforms such as a B-52 bomber.
The idea is to retrofit the 65-year-old bomber design with an external POD and enough generating capacity to defeat incoming air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles.
Defensive laser weapons could also be used to jam an attacking missile as well, developers explained.
“You may not want to destroy the incoming missile but rather throw the laser off course – spoof it,” (Air Force Chief Scientist Greg) Zacharias said.
Protecting airborne targets could become more difficult. While the Russian military is still widely considered generally inferior to American military capabilities — even after the Obama era draw-down, one area they’ve reportedly made significant progress and are pressing their advantage is in the area of anti-aircraft missile capability. We live in interesting times.