The US Army has selected Northrop Grumman’s solid-state laser system for field tests at the army’s high-energy laser system test facility (HELSTF) in New Mexico.

The joint high-power solid-state laser (JHPSSL) phase 3 system will be integrated with the beam control, and command and control systems from another Northrop-built tactical high-energy laser to provide the army with the world’s first high-power, solid-state laser testbed experiment (SSLTE).

The SSLTE will be used to validate a 100kW solid-state laser to accomplish a variety of missions on which the army will base any future development plans for solid-state lasers as a weapon system.

Northrop Grumman Directed Energy Systems vice-president Dan Wildt said solid-state lasers had achieved militarily useful power levels and packaging densities.

“We have been demonstrating laser performance at HELSTF and other test sites for many years against a wide variety of potential threats including missiles of various sizes and speeds, helicopters, drones, rockets, artillery, mortar rounds and submunitions,” he said.

Northrop became the first company to reach the 100kW power level threshold for a solid-state laser, under the JHPSSL programme.

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Northrop Grumman was contracted by the US Army in cooperation with BAE Systems to relocate the JHPSSL phase 3 system from the company’s laser factory in Redondo Beach, California to HELSTF.