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Lockheed Martin Receives Contract to Develop Compact Airborne High Energy Laser Capabilities
09 November 2017, 11:48 | Melissa Porter
Air Force Research Lab
Lockheed Martin won a contract with the US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) worth a reported $26.3million (£20million) to develop a "high power fibre laser" which can be fitted to fighter jets.
The project is part of a program called SHiELD, which includes the development of a control system of a laser in the targeting. By 2021 is to be tested a laser mounted on a tactical American fighter. The Air Force wants to use the lasers for self-defense in the future and hopes the weapons system will protect forces from missiles and drones.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a $26.3 million contract to develop a laser weapon for United States fighter jets.
"Lockheed Martin continues to rapidly advance laser weapon systems and the technologies that make them possible", said Dr. Rob Afzal, senior fellow of laser weapon systems at Lockheed Martin.
Past performance shows Lockheed has demonstrated a steady increase in laser power while decreasing the size, weight and power of its systems.
In March, Lockheed delivered a 60 kilowatt-class laser that can be installed on military trucks like the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) - the largest vehicle in the US Army inventory. "It's a completely new and different challenge to get a laser system into a smaller, airborne test platform".
"It's exciting to see this technology mature enough to embed in an aircraft", Afzal said. The fighter jet, which will eventually carry the laser weapon, is also unknown. It is being created to operate in a compact environment, so Lockheed has focused on developing a compact, high-efficiency laser to address size, weight, and power constraints.
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