Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract to design, build and test a 60kW weapons-grade-electric laser for the US Army.
Under the $25m deal, which is managed by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command's Technical Center, the company will develop a high-energy fibre laser for integration and testing in the truck-mounted laser mobile demonstrator (HEL MD).
Building on the company's work under the army's current robust electric laser initiative (RELI) contract, the ruggedised laser will be designed to significantly enhance soldiers' ability to counter rockets, artillery, mortars and unmanned aerial threats.
Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training business advanced product solutions vice-president Paula Hartley said the company continues to advance its high-energy fibre laser technology to provide a proven, affordable weapon architecture that supports the size, weight and power constraints faced by its customers.
"Our solution is much smaller, lighter and more electrically efficient than others in the market and can bring tremendous value to the army and other military customers," Hartley said.
The electric laser uses multiple compact, rugged fibre laser modules to generate a high power output beam with excellent beam quality and high electrical efficiency.
The fibre lasers are combined into a single beam of light by a unique spectral beam combining process, which retains the high beam quality of the individual fibre modules while reaching the 60kW mark.
Lockheed had successfully demonstrated a 30kW electric fibre laser in January, marking a significant milestone towards deploying a mission-relevant laser weapon system for a wide range of air, land and sea military platforms.
The company funded research and development programme combined several fibre lasers into a single, near-perfect quality beam of light, using approximately 50% less electricity than alternative solid-state laser technologies.