Lockheed Martin announced on September 15 that it had delivered a “tactically relevant” electric 300 kilowatt-class laser to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (OUSD (R&E)). The laser is the most powerful laser Lockheed Martin has produced to date.
The laser is developed under OUSD (R&E)’s High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative, with Lockheed Martin having been selected in 2019 to develop a 300 kW-class laser based on its spectral beam combined high energy laser architecture. The company claims that it achieved the milestone ahead of schedule, with vice president of Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions Rick Cordaro saying in a press release that the laser features increased power and efficiency alongside reduced weight and volume, reducing risk for future high power laser weapon fielding efforts.
The laser will be used to support demonstration efforts of the Army’s Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser (IFPC-HEL), which seeks the development of a tactical 300 kW-class laser for cruise missile defense. IFPC-HEL demonstrators are scheduled for laboratory and field testing this year, with the fielding of an initial four tactical vehicle-mounted IFPC-HEL lasers planned for fiscal 2024. According to Lockheed Martin, the laser is also ready for integration with other DoD demonstration efforts.
Other Lockheed Martin laser projects for the Defense Department include the Navy’s HELIOS, or High-Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance. HELIOS combines a 60 kW-class laser with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, giving HELIOS-equipped ships greater situational awareness and the ability to engage small drones and fast attack craft or dazzle their sensors with a highly precise weapon with deep magazine depth. The company confirmed that it had delivered the first HELIOS system to the Navy last month, with the USS Preble to conduct at-sea HELIOS testing in fiscal 2023 after becoming the first Navy ship to receive permanent laser weapon system capability.