美国空军第一批激光武器投入使用已有数周,国防部正在酝酿新的概念,以解决定向能源领域最先进技术的功率和热量管理限制问题。

As the U.S. Air Force comes within weeks of the first operational laser weapons, the Defense Department is hatching new concepts to address the power and thermal management limits of the state-of-the-art in the directed energy field.

在10月份于俄克拉荷马州希尔堡举行的一次秘密演练中,空军进行了另一轮部署雷神高能激光武器系统(HEL-WS)的测试,以及其他定向能源方式,例如空军研究实验室的战术高功率微波操作响应器(THOR),美国空军研究实验室(AFRL)的定向能源局负责人Kelly Hammett说。

In a largely secret dress rehearsal staged in October at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the Air Force performed another round of tests of the deploying Raytheon High Energy Laser Weapon System (HEL-WS), as well as other directed energy options, such as the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR), says Kelly Hammett, director of AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate.

“我能透露的就是有多个系统。从我对报告的解读看来,这似乎是一次非常成功的演练,”Hammett说,他曾在10月29日的“老乌鸦协会”年度研讨会上发言。

 “All I can say is there were multiple systems. From my reading of the reports, it looked like a very successful exercise,” says Hammett, who addressed the Association of Old Crows annual symposium Oct. 29.

西尔堡(Fort Sill)实验的目的是使武器在现实的作战环境中发挥作用。AFRL的战略发展规划和实验办公室(SDPE,尽管拼写错误,但发音为“ Speedy”)呼吁HEL-WS和THOR参与小型无人机系统(UAS)的部署。实验还展示了新的诊断工具,使AFRL测试人员能够实时了解大气对能量传导的影响。

The Fort Sill experiment was intended to put the weapons through their paces in a realistic operational environment. AFRL’s Strategic Development, Planning and Experimentation (SDPE, which, despite its spelling, is pronounced “Speedy”) office called on the HEL-WS and THOR to engage swarms of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The experiments also demonstrated new diagnostic tools, allowing AFRL testers to understand the atmosphere’s effect on energy propagation in real time.

SDPE在8月份与雷神(Raytheon)签订了一份合同,向空军交付“少量”系统,为期一年,预计于2020年11月完成部署。Hammett说,HEL-WS将被用来防御空军基地,免受机群、小型UAS和巡航导弹的袭击。空军并未公布HEL-WS部署基地的位置。

SDPE awarded Raytheon a contract in August to deliver a “handful” of systems to the Air Force for a one-year deployment scheduled to conclude in November 2020. The HEL-WS will be used to defend Air Force bases from attacks by swarming, small UAS and cruise missiles, Hammett says. The Air Force is not releasing the location of the deployed sites for the HEL-WS.

AFRL也在为THOR的首次作战训练做准备。THOR没有使用高能光束轰击无人机,而是向目标发射强大的射频能量脉冲,使其电子设备失效。Hammett将THOR称为第二代定向能源武器。它的设计坚固耐用、结构紧凑,可以在装入洛克希德·马丁公司C-130的单个容器内运载。他说,从飞机上卸下后,THOR可以在几个小时内激活,或者在同一时间内拆解并移动。

AFRL also is grooming THOR for an operational debut. Instead of blasting a UAS with a high-energy optical beam, THOR sends powerful pulses of radio frequency energy at a target to disable its electronics. Hammett describes THOR as a second-generation directed energy weapon. It is designed to be rugged for operational duty and compact enough to be transported inside a single container loaded into a Lockheed Martin C-130. Upon unloading from the aircraft, THOR can be activated within a couple hours, or broken down and moved within the same period, he says.

尽管对定向能系统进行了几十年的基础研究,但这种作战能力发展得相当迅速。Hammett说,空军最终在2017年的飞行计划中巩固了其开发定向能武器的战略。这份文件缩小了一个曾经支离破碎的研究机构的研究范围,该机构曾试图解决太多的问题。

Despite decades of basic research on directed energy systems, such operational capabilities have evolved fairly rapidly. The Air Force finally consolidated its strategy for developing directed energy weapons in the 2017 flight plan, Hemmett said. The document narrowed a once-fragmented research organization that attempted to address too many missions.

这条消息是Steve Trimble在Aerospace Defense & Daily Report发表文章的摘要。全文中讨论了关于2017年飞行计划的更多细节和影响这项技术的基本问题。订阅者可以在此处访问完整的文章 (英文)。

This is an abbreviated version of an article that appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report by Steve Trimble. More details on the 2017 flight plan and fundamental issues affecting such technology are discussed in the full article. Login or subscribe to access the full article in English here.