U.S. Air Force airmen are one step closer to possessing an amazing weapon. Lockheed Martin has tested its new laser weapon, Athena, which is capable of destroying multiple targets including rockets and small speed boats.

The Athena system, which stands for Advanced Test High Energy Asset, is capable of scanning and tracking multiple targets and engaging them at the speed of light. Very little is known about the specifics of the system but we do know that it is the most sophisticated weapon of its class.

A source close to the project told International Business Times that Athena is capable of being used as a sensor array that broadcasts target information in real time to controllers.

Lockheed Martin's ATHENA laser
Lockheed Martin's Athena laser has this truck's engine sizzling with a laser beam fired from over a mile away. Lockheed Martin

Athena is the latest in a line of laser weapon prototypes unveiled by Lockheed Martin in 2013. Unlike the previous versions, there is no information available about the maximum power of this system. In 2015, the system test-fired a 30 kW burst and burned through a truck engine in seconds. In 2017, Lockheed Martin conducted a similar test, firing a full 60 kW laser.

Athena is a fiber laser system; several individual lasers are combined and focused on the main burst that packs a punch. The lasers are capable of blinding targets that use optical sensors, and they can burn through the surfaces and internal structures of targets causing enough damage to destroy them.

Laser weapons assume significance in the face of a threat from highly advanced drones and other airborne objects. These systems require minimal crew and no projectiles, making them effective weapons and defensive measures.

Directed energy weapons are as stealthy as they come because they emit no sound when fired and leave no visual reference such as smoke that is often seen when firing conventional weapons.