Friday, December 08, 2006
High-energy laser weapons are a potential future upgrade for the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit bomber, which is expected to remain in service beyond 2050.
Improved passive and active stealth techniques are also expected to be needed beyond 2020 to keep the type viable as a penetrating bomber, the company says.
A US Air Force advanced concepts simulation exercise in November evaluated use of a solid-state laser system for positive combat identification and self-defence.
The design concept deploys the laser from the aircraft's internal weapons bay, says Northrop programme manager Dave Mazur, and also uses its optics for target identification, as the only imaging sensor the B-2 carries is its radar.