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January 25, 2013

150 kilowatt lasers will be installed in US Fighter planes as early as 2014

The goal of the HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System) program is to develop a 150 kilowatt (kW) laser weapon system that is ten times smaller and lighter than current lasers of similar power, enabling integration onto tactical aircraft to defend against and defeat ground threats. With a weight goal of less than five kilograms per kilowatt, and volume of three cubic meters for the laser system, HELLADS seeks to enable high-energy lasers to be integrated onto tactical aircraft, significantly increasing engagement ranges compared to ground-based systems.

The program has completed laboratory testing of a fundamental building block for HELLADS, a single laser module that successfully demonstrated the ability to achieve high power and beam quality from a significantly lighter and smaller laser. The program is now in the final development phase where a second laser module will be built and combined with the first module to generate 150 kW of power.

The HELLADS is expected to have a maximum weight of 750kg.

General Atomics has the contract to deliver the lasers. Textron Defense Systems and Northrop Grumman also have laser development involvement.

We had coverage in 2009 of earlier laser work by Textron and General Atomics

The United States Navy and Air Force will be installing “liquid-cooled, solid-state lasers” in combat airplanes. The lasers will shoot down missiles and rockets targeted at the planes. Firing tests will happen as soon as next year.





DARPA continues funding for Phase 3 of the Lockheed Martin Aero-Adaptive/Aero-Optic Beam Control (ABC) program, intended to allow a self-defense laser on a high-speed fighter to shoot aft and sidewards through the turbulent flowfield behind the laser turret.

Here is the DARPA page for the Aero-Adaptive/Aero-Optic Beam Control (ABC) program.

Here is the DARPA page for the Architecture for Diode High Energy Laser Systems (ADHELS) ADHELS is dedicated to investigating new wavelength laser beam-combining architectures to produce a new generation of compact high-efficiency, high-energy laser (HEL) systems. Such an architecture complements current programs developing airborne-based, megawatt-class chemical lasers and ground-based, multihundred kilowatt-class solid-state slab lasers by providing a new class of HELs with record-low size, weight and waste power that can be integrated onto tactical air vehicles.

The solid-state lasers are candidates for the U.S. Army's High-Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator program to test a truck-mounted (of Humvvee) system in 2013-15 that can counter rocket, artillery and mortar projectiles.

DARPA high energy laser project budgets are reviewed here

SOURCES - DARPA, Aviation Week, Technology Review

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