The Air Force has been talking about placing laser weapons on fighter jets for some time, but Air Mobility Command is also looking to the possibility of using lasers to counter surface-to-air and air-to-air missile threats.
Gen. Carlton Everhart, head of AMC, told Air Force Times he wants to begin exploring this capability on a KC-135 refueling tanker starting next year.
The four-star has talked about the idea of employing lasers before, but now he’s taking steps to get a KC-135 to the Air Force Research Laboratory by the summer of 2018 to start testing the concept.
The researchers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio would get six months to a year to experiment with the aircraft to see what is possible and what questions would need to be answered, said AMC spokesman Col. Chris Karns.
“The expectation is to have this capability available to our war fighters within two years,” Everhart said. “It’s time to move out and show we’re serious about this to our airmen.”
This laser could enable U.S. Air Force fighter jets to take down missiles more cheaply than current weapons.
As the United States faces more advanced adversaries that can fire anti-aircraft missiles, refueling tankers are a prime target because of their size and mission.
Everhart has also discussed a type of “cloaking device” that could make it harder for an enemy to detect these large planes on their radars.
The commander said he wants to take advantage of the bright, innovative minds within the Air Force to help future war fighters.