Within the next five years, there will be fricken' laser beams on US fighter jets, according to the US Air Force. The Air Force expects to have laser weapons, something it calls directed-energy weapon pods, on its jets by the end of the decade.
These directed-energy weapons will be capable of taking out missiles, UAVs and other enemy aircraft out of the sky. Air Force General Hawk Carlisle said at a Fifth-Generation Warfare lecture during the Air Force Association Air & Space conference: "I believe we'll have a directed energy pod we can put on a fighter plane very soon. That day is a lot closer than I think a lot of people think it is".
Which system will the US Air Force deploy on its fighter jets? Right now, it seems like the 150kW HELLADS system courtesy of General Atomics will be the one the USAF will deploy. The system has just kicked off tests on the ground, with HELLADS standing for "High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System". The third-generation prototype is quite small, measuring in at just 1.3 x 0.4 x 0.5 meters, small enough to be fitted onto a Predator C UAV.