Friday, February 23, 2024

General Atomics, Boeing to develop 300kW-class laser weapon system for U.S. Army

Every year, the technology used in directed energy weapons, such as lasers and high-power microwaves, is maturing, with armed forces across the world planning to deploy them on the battlefield. Many armies from different countries use different types of laser systems for their specific combat tasks and actions.

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) and Boeing have recently been awarded a U.S. Army contract to develop a 300kW-class solid-state Distributed Gain High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) that will produce a lethal output greater than anything fielded to date. The system will combine both companies’ expertise in Directed Energy to deliver best-in-class, combat-ready protection for the warfighter with unmatched speed, performance, safety, and affordability.

Specifically, the high-power, compact laser weapon subsystem prototype will leverage GA-EMS’ scalable Distributed Gain Laser technology with Boeing’s beam director and precision acquisition, tracking, and pointing software to provide a complete demonstrator with sophisticated laser and beam control.

Dr. Michael Perry, vice president for lasers and advanced sensors at GA-EMS, describes the laser as “a packaged version of the 7th Generation of our Distributed Gain Design already demonstrated. The laser system employs two Gen 7 laser heads in a very compact and lightweight package. Recent architectural improvements have enabled our single-beam D.G. Lasers to achieve comparable beam quality to fiber lasers in a very simple design without the need for beam combination.”

“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,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS.