WASHINGTON: The US Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office has awarded a General Atomics and Boeing team a contract to develop a 300 kilo-watt high energy laser weapon, the companies announced Monday.
Boeing and General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) will work together to build a 300kW-class solid state Distributed Gain High Energy Laser Weapon System designed to shoot down airborne threats.
“The high power, compact laser weapon subsystem prototype that GA-EMS will deliver under this contract will produce a lethal output greater than anything fielded to date,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “This technology represents a leap-ahead capability for air and missile defense that is necessary to support the Army’s modernization efforts and defeat next-generation threats in a multi-domain battlespace.”
The General Atomics-Boeing team was not authorized to disclose the contract amount, according to a spokesperson.
The partnership will use GA-EMS’s Distributed Gain Laser technology, combined with Boeing’s beam director and precision acquisition, tracking and pointing software to provide a “a complete demonstrator with sophisticated laser and beam control.”
“We’re excited to take the next step in delivering this critical capability to the Army,” said Cindy Gruensfelder, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Missile and Weapon Systems division. “Our joint offering will leverage proven, deployed technologies to provide an industry-leading solution on an accelerated timeline.”
High-energy laser weapons could be used by ground forces in a variety of role, including short-range air defense (SHORAD) and counter-unmanned aircraft systems missions, as well defend against other incoming artillery or even temporarily disable satellites.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the Defense Department requested at least $578 million for unclassified directed-energy research and development funds and $331 million for DE procurement in its fiscal 2022 budget request.
The Pentagon’s directed energy roadmap shows that the department wants a 300kW direct energy weapon around fiscal 2022, according to a CRS report.
The Army has a variety of ongoing directed-energy programs. The RCCTO is working with the Air Force to prototype vehicle-mounted High Power Microwave weapon, another type of directed energy capability, to shoot down incoming drones. That weapon is set for demonstration in this fiscal year with the service preparing to field four prototype vehicles in 2024.
Earlier today, the General Dynamics Land Systems and counter-drone company Epirus announced a partnership to upgrade Strykers with directed energy weapons and incorporate them on future ground vehicles.
Army Awards Laser Weapon Contract To Boeing, General Atomics Team – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Andrew Eversden for breakingdefense.com