by Matt Keegan
Ever since the mid-70s and the NKC-135 Airborne Laser Lab laser has been the technology ‘10 years in coming’. After many years, many theories, and many experiments, it appears the ‘10 year clock’ has finally started to tick. But even as more fiber based lasers take to the field, there is yet another twist in the plot that could change everything … again. The Diode Pumped Alkali Lasers (DPAL) represents a potential disruption in the future of laser weapons in the US and the UK. While the majority of current efforts have been focus on fiber related lasers, DPALS has been over coming physics challenges that now portends very high power lasers at very low size, weight and power (SWaP). As the industry moves forward on many directed energy approaches, understanding the DPALS threat and/or opportunity is critical to US laser providers.