HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Space and missile defense experts from around the world are connecting in Huntsville at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium to develop partnerships and showcase their contributions to the industry.

One major contribution to war fighting and U.S. Defense is directed energy systems.

Several companies are developing directed energy systems that harness high-power energy in the form of light to concentrate that energy on military threats like drones, ships, and enemy aircraft or missiles. Simply put, it’s laser weapons.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are two of many companies producing the technology in North Alabama.
Experts with Lockheed Martin say the new weapon systems are more precise than traditional ammunition.

“Laser weapon systems are incredibly precise and they can instantly put an effect on a target. When you think about it, laser weapon systems travel at the speed of light. They are the fastest weapon we can employ in our inventory, so it’s really important we continue to develop these,” says Amaan Sattar, Lockheed Martin Laser, and Sensor Systems Program Director.

Leaders at Boeing say using directed energy systems will be cost-effective in war fighting.

“When there is a lot of something and you want to destroy a lot of them you want really cheap means to do it. A laser does that for pennies on the dollar. One single bullet you see the army use costs a dollar a bullet. We can charge this laser and shoot it for 10 minutes for a penny,” says Jim Leary, Boeing Missiles and Weapon Systems Business Development Director.

Space and missile defense companies have been working for decades to perfect the science and technology that goes into producing laser weapon systems. The systems are now produced in different sizes and powers for different military uses.