The US Army has awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman to increase the efficiency of next-generation military laser technology as part of the robust electric laser initiative (RELI) programme.

Under the contract, the company will leverage its recent high-energy solid-state laser achievements to upgrade electric laser technology by significantly increasing the competence of the systems for military purposes.

The Department of Defense RELI programme intends to increase system efficiency from the current 20% to over 30%, while producing good beam quality and a power level of 25kW that can be increased to 100kW.

The programme, funded by the high-energy laser-joint technology office (HEL-JTO), also aims to deliver a highly consistent, fieldable system that can be joined with other Defense Department initiatives and adapted to specific platforms across all military services.

The initial two-year, $8.8m contract with options to extend it to a five-year contract valued at $53.3m, has been awarded by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command / Army Strategic Forces Command.