OUSD (R&E), the US Army's Office of Defense for Research and Engineering, received a 300 kilowatt laser, the most powerful laser Lockheed Martin has ever supplied. The 300 kW laser “can hit targets from greater distances and destroy them faster.”
The laser was manufactured as part of the Pentagon's High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative (HELSI), Breaking Defense reports; This initiative is the ministry's effort to strengthen the directed energy industry base and improve laser beam quality.
This step comes after Lockheed Martin delivered in August the HELIOS, the first tactical laser weapon system to be installed on existing ships, a 60+ kW class high-energy laser with an integrated optical dazzle and surveillance system.
Race McDermott, a member of Lockheed Martin's advanced product solutions strategy and advanced concepts team, said at a media roundtable on September 15 that the company is "really focused on expanding our manufacturing capability internally so we can deliver this system on time." McDermott added: “We're really proud to be the first out the door.”
The United States Army's Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL) Demonstrator laser weapon system is a DOD demonstration project in which a 300 kilowatt laser is being prepared to be assembled.
300 kW class laser can generate more energy
According to a press release, Lockheed Martin was selected by OUSD (R&E) in 2019 to upgrade its spectral beam combined high-energy laser design to the 300 kW class level as part of HELSI. The team accomplished this milestone ahead of schedule.
According to Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President of Advanced Product Solutions Rick Cordaro, the company has "improved the power and efficiency of continuous wave high energy lasers, while reducing their weight and volume, reducing the risk for future field operations of high-power laser weapon systems."
“We liken it to the Pink Floyd album cover when you see it coming in as white light and then splitting up into many color spectrums. According to National Defense Magazine, “like doing it in reverse, we take different spectral elements and combine them into a single high-energy beam.”
Thanks to its larger energy capacity, the 300 kW class laser “can hit and destroy targets faster at greater distances. The target has been a 300 kW class laser that really scales up for more difficult missions to combat threats like cruise missiles,” added McDermott.
It can be deployed on land, at sea or in the air.
Amaan Sattar, director of laser and sensor systems at Lockheed Martin, added that the laser offers a more economical capability than other munitions.
We're not talking about large sums of money per shot, as in traditional techniques for eliminating a hazard, he said. "We're talking cents or dollars per shot here." "So when you consider how much electricity each shot actually uses, this is actually a really important and competitive skill in terms of cost per shot," he writes.
Reaching the delivery milestone reinforces the defense industry leader's commitment to 21st Century Security, which includes "developing cutting-edge technologies that provide speed, agility and mission solutions that help ensure the United States and its allies are always prepared for what lies ahead," according to a Lockheed statement.
The company is also working on making the laser weapon smaller and lighter so it can be carried on land, water, and possibly even airborne.
“These systems are another indication of their readiness and capability to be deployed as force multipliers… as part of a mix of directed energy and kinetic energy that our fighters can use to defend against threats such as rockets, artillery, mortars, cruise missiles, UAVs and small ships,” Cordaro said. " said.