Lockheed to develop fibre laser for AFRL
Lockheed Martin has received a $26.3 million contract from the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to design and produce a high-power fibre laser, the company announced on 6 November.
The contract was awarded as part of AFRL's Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) programme. AFRL plans to test this laser on a tactical fighter jet by 2021.
The SHiELD programme includes three subsystems: SHiELD Turret Research in Aero Effects - the beam control system to direct the laser onto the target; Laser Pod Research and Development - the pod mounted on the tactical fighter jet to power and cool the laser; and Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments - the high energy laser itself, which can be trained on adversary targets to disable them.
Lockheed is focused on developing a compact, high efficiency laser within challenging size, weight and power constraints.
Rob Afzal, senior fellow of laser weapon systems at Lockheed Martin, said: ‘We have demonstrated our ability to use directed energy to counter threats from the ground, and look forward to future tests from the air as part of the SHiELD system.
‘Earlier this year, we delivered a 60kW-class laser to be installed on a US Army ground vehicle. It's a completely new and different challenge to get a laser system into a smaller, airborne test platform. The development of high power laser systems like SHiELD show laser weapon system technologies are becoming real. The technologies are ready to be produced, tested and deployed on aircraft, ground vehicles and ships.’
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