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AFRL starts SHiELD pod assembly

26th February 2021 - 15:53 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

Aircraft self-defence laser is expected to be tested in FY2024.

Hardware for the first Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) pod has been delivered to the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for assembly at Kirtland Air Force Base.

AFRL scientists and Boeing engineers are beginning the integration process of main subsystems for the airborne self-defence system. The laser and beam control components are scheduled to arrive in July.

The SHiELD programme intends to develop a directed energy laser system on an aircraft pod that will serve to demonstrate self-defence of aircraft against SAMs and air-to-air missiles.

Over the past two years, the SHiELD team has seen major programme milestones and technology maturation, according to the AFRL.

These achievements include ‘successfully flying an F-15 with attached laser test pod, and the successful shoot-down of air-launched missiles using a ground-based system configured to represent the laser system’s self-protect aspects’, it noted on 23 February.

AFRL was planning to test SHiELD on a fighter aircraft in 2021 but the first full system test is now scheduled for FY2024.

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