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BETHESDA, MARYLAND — The U.S. is finally taking a page from Star Wars and is now looking to equip its fighter planes with high-energy lasers.

CNBC reports that Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $26.3 million contract to design, develop, and build a high-energy laser weapon for the U.S. Air Force’s SHiELD program.

The company delivered a 60-kilowatt laser for U.S. Army ground vehicles early this year, and will produce a smaller system to test on tactical aircraft by 2021.

Airborne laser weapons can defend against threats from enemy missiles, boosting the self-defense capabilities of military jets.

The Lockheed Martin laser is one of three subsystems that make up the SHiELD program. A beam control system is being developed by Northrop Grumman, while a pod to power and cool the laser is being designed by Boeing.

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In a statement on Thursday, the U.S. military said that a U.S. Marine pilot has died as his aircraft went down off the coast of Japan, he ejected from the FA-18C+ fighter jet. The pilot, Captain Jake Frederick, was located by a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship. The U.S. military provided few details and said that the cause of the crash is under investigation. The accident occurred on Wednesday which was the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, that is the attack that drew the United States into World War Two.

The 33rd Infantry Regiment, 10th Division part of the Japan Self-Defense Forces along with the U.S. Army 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment conduct aerial .
Footage of the Helicopter Aerial Rifle Marksmanship (HARM) class that was held at the Rock Castle Shooting Center at Park Mammoth in Park City, Kentucky.

U.S. Marines, Japan Self-Defense Force Conduct Fire-Support Exercises

Japan and the United States are exploring the possibility of Tokyo acquiring offensive weapons that would allow Japan to project power far beyond its borders, Japanese officials said, a move that would likely infuriate China. While Japan’s intensifying rivalry with China dominates the headlines, Tokyo’s focus would be the ability to take out North Korean missile bases, said three Japanese officials involved in the process.

U.S. and Philippine commandos waded ashore on Wednesday in a mock assault to retake a small island in energy-rich waters disputed with China, part of a drill…

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