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Thermal Management for Directed Energy Weapons

  • Magazine Article
  • 20AERP09_02
Published September 01, 2020 by SAE International in United States
Language:
  • English

Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) utilize concentrated electromagnetic energy focused on a target to cause damage, versus conventional kinetic energy weapons which hit the target with a solid projectile. Lasers, microwaves, and particle beams are examples of DEWs. While DEWs are not a new concept, they are gaining increasing interest as the technologies to concentrate energy to damaging levels, to track the targets accurately, and to manage the massive amounts of waste energy produced are reaching higher levels of maturity. At the same time, the price tag for conventional ammunition and conventional weapons continues to climb, placing increasing funding burdens on the government. Compared to conventional weapons, the advantages of DEWs include: (1) speed of light target engagement; (2) low cost per shot; and (3) deep magazine capability, limited only by the available power and thermal management capacity.