ARA Develops Lightweight Laser Weapon System
The Silent Saber is high power, 1.5 kilowatt fiber laser packaged in a backpack with power supplies and a unique thermal control system. A telescope with multiple potential mounting configurations can be mounted to existing Picatinny rails of a soldier’s rifle, and a laser is connected to the telescope by a fiber cable.
“This tool provides options to the warfighter to support explosive ordnance disposal, counter infrastructure and counter drone missions,” said Principal Engineer Joseph Paranto, ARA’s Director of Directed Energy Systems.
The unit is compact, lightweight, rugged, and easy to use, Paranto said. His team is building a prototype for a U.S. Government client.
Currently, soldiers must approach unexploded ordnances, improvised explosive devices, and mines to place additional explosives, wire the explosives, and move to a safe distance in order to detonate the explosives.
A laser, however, can deflagrate the devices directly with no additional explosive and little preparation time. They also minimize personnel exposure, keeping the soldier out of harm’s way, and have a lower cost per event than current explosive ordnance disposal.
“Our Silent Saber allows the soldier to place the intensity of a cutting torch out to targets three football field lengths away.” - JOSEPH PARANTO, ARA Principal Engineer
The Silent Saber will be able to burn through and explode ordnance in a matter of seconds, depending on the material and thickness of the ordnance.
It could also be used for infrastructure attack – cutting communication or power lines, for example – or against moving targets such as Unmanned Aerial Systems and Unmanned Ground Vehicles. The system also has applications for counter security, and can be used to take out cameras, fencing, locks, and lights.
“Our fully-integrated laser weapon system weighs around 60 pounds and will be integrated and tested later this summer,” Paranto said. “This will be the first time a laser weapon system that small will be demonstrated, most competitor systems being anywhere from 600 to over 6000 lbs.”
Other laser-based systems exist, but are large and costly. Silent Saber is compact, easily integrated into existing systems, and will be comparatively inexpensive to manufacture – making it an ideal directed-energy solution both on and off the battlefield.
The unique laser tool has broad applicability across the Department of Defense. It can be used with existing gimbals, trackers, and sensors, and it can be updated with minor changes to the current system, increasing the power to 3 kilowatts, or integrated with robotic vehicles.
In March, the Silent Saber drew attention from attendees of the Directed Energy to DC Exhibition at the Pentagon.
Paranto said, “Silent Saber shows that laser weapons can now be developed based on existing, mature fiber laser technology.”
Applied Research Associates was founded in 1979 and is an employee-owned scientific research and engineering company dedicated to solving critical national problems to improve our safety, security and way of life. ARA has earned significant recognition in National Security, Transportation, Energy & Environment, and Health & Human Safety and has set standards of excellence in service and technology that extend into new territory. ARA is the company that government and industry turn to for innovative technologies and solutions with employees who have the expertise to tackle the most challenging technical problems.
Principal Engineer, Southwest Division