AFRL DEMONSTRATES TACTICAL SOLID-STATE LASER WEAPON TECHNOLOGY

  • Published
  • By Plans and Programs Directorate
  • AFRL/XP
A team of engineers from AFRL and Northrop Grumman Space Technology (NGST), of Redondo Beach, California, demonstrated a solid-state (electric) laser. This research effort addressed the laser device output for high-power solid-state laser (HPSSL) technologies, which have the potential to meet the performance, efficiency, and weight/volume requirements for tactical laser weapons integration on airborne military platforms. These lasers have minimal logistical requirements; they also fire as long as there is fuel to generate electricity, deliver energy at the speed of light at extended ranges, allow discriminate targeting, and reduce collateral damage.
The team's research goal was to develop and demonstrate alternative, 25 kW class, near-diffraction-limited, diode-pumped solid-state lasers that have favorable architectures in terms of size, weight, efficiency, affordability, reliability, maintainability, supportability, environmental (air, land, and maritime) acceptability, and ruggedness for tactical weapon applications. Using a solid-state laser, the team exceeded the goal of 25 kW output power for 300 sec, achieving the desired beam quality for power levels below 17 kW. This achievement demonstrated the engineering feasibility of scaling HPSSLs to the average, 100 kW power level. As a result of the demonstration, NGST earned a contract to produce a 100 kW solid-state laser.

 

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