Imagine if fighter jets could shoot down enemy targets with high-powered lasers.
That is now closer to reality. Recently, the Air Force Research Laboratory awarded a $26 million contract to Lockheed Martin (LMT) for a laser system small enough to mount on future fighter jets.
It’s cool tech … and a potential goldmine for investors in stocks tied to lasers.
Lockheed, and other defense contractors, have been working on powerful lasers for a long time. In June, the U.S. Army test-fired a laser weapon from an Apache helicopter.
The technology works, and it is instantaneous.
The Laser Advancement for Next-generation Compact Environments project will build on that technology. LANCE pushes the boundaries of what engineers thought was possible.
It’s one thing to mount a laser on a ground vehicle, a ship or even a helicopter, which can hover for stability. But it’s a real challenge to attach a 60-KW-class laser to a $160 million tactical jet carrying 18,500 pounds of jet fuel.
The laser weapon generates a beam of light so intense that Lockheed compares it to a stream of unlimited bullets moving at the speed of light.
This stream is almost invisible to the human eye. But don’t underestimate it. It can destroy small rockets, missiles, drones and other targets that are more than a mile away.
The system uses fiber-optic lasers and sophisticated beam control. As power levels increase, Lockheed claims the lasers will eventually knock out bigger targets at longer ranges.
That is the opportunity for investors.
A New Era of Invention
Most portfolios should have some exposure to defense contractors. These companies are very often at the cutting edge of technologies. Having a client with ultra-deep pockets helps. It defrays costs. And it’s good for shareholders, too.