Lockheed Martin has delivered its most powerful laser to date to the US military’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering OUSD (R&E) ahead of schedule for installation in new laser weapon demonstrators designed to engage a variety of targets.
As the 2020s proceed, laser weapons are rapidly evolving from a promising concept to practical battlefield weapons. However, this isn’t a simple linear progression. Laser weapons are extremely complex systems that are often sent back to square one when some concept in the design proves to be no longer practical.
Each of these subsystems, which includes power units, laser generators, beam combiners, focusing units, targeting systems, and many others must all move forward and properly integrate in a form that is not only functional, but robust and reliable enough to be a practical weapon at sea, on land, in the air, and in space.
Obviously, the most important subsystem is the solid-state laser itself. In this case, Lockheed Martin has boosted the power into the 300-kW class. This is five times the power of the HELIOS tactical laser that the company delivered to the US Navy in August for integration into existing warships.
The new 300-kW laser will be used in several demonstration projects, including the US Army’s Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL) Demonstrator laser weapon system. Laboratory and field testing is expected later this year.
By upping the power on the laser, future weapons will be able to engage a wider variety of larger targets at longer ranges and neutralize them more quickly.
“Lockheed Martin increased the power and efficiency and reduced the weight and volume of continuous-wave high energy lasers which reduces risk for future fielding efforts of high power laser weapon systems,” said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions.
Source: Lockheed Martin