Friday, May 31, 2024

Rolls-Royce ColdFire powers directed energy field tests in the U.S.

Rolls-Royce has successfully demonstrated ‘deep magazine’ power capability for directed energy applications, powering multiple extended laser field tests in collaboration with Lockheed Martin as part of the Layered Laser Defense (LLD) project.

Deep magazine power capability is crucial for directed energy applications, which can be limited by battery-only systems that require recharging or replacement of batteries after a short period of operation. The Rolls-Royce ColdFire system combines a battery-powered firing mode with a near-continuous one, thanks to a compact and fuel-efficient M250 gas turbine engine. This provides consistent, extended power to the laser weapon to engage more targets with a longer range.

Last month, the U.S. Navy conducted the historic field test of a new all-electric laser weapon system that successfully shot down a subsonic cruise missile in flight. Developed by Lockheed Martin and powered by Rolls-Royce’s game-changing ColdFire system, the laser weapon was part of the LLD project.

Lockheed Martin developed the 100kW-class LLD to demonstrate cutting-edge laser weapon system technologies in an integrated system. Compact but powerful and coupled with a Rolls-Royce ColdFire power and thermal system, it provides nearly continuous firing capability to engage more types of targets, in larger numbers, with longer range, than previous systems.

In addition, ColdFire system offers unique and highly effective cooling technology to dissipate the large amount of heat generated by the laser system. The company’s gas-turbine engines operate at temperatures far greater than the melting point of the metal. That requires sophisticated engineering technology that allows engines to operate safely and effectively for thousands of hours. Rolls-Royce ColdFire also incorporates this highly-efficient thermal management technology.

With field-proven laser and platform integration, ColdFire is suitable for land, sea, or air systems and features thermal and power options for specific customer need. Directed energy systems offer low cost per shot, reduced logistical burdens, and compelling capabilities against today’s stressing threats, including counter-hypersonic, and are versatile and scalable.

“The Rolls-Royce ColdFire system successfully demonstrated extended firing capability during the field tests, proving the technology is ready to progress to customer applications,” said Craig McVay, Rolls-Royce Defense, Senior Vice President. “We built the most sophisticated power and thermal management system in the world, so we are ready for any challenge. Our U.S. Department of Defense customers continue to express interest in Rolls-Royce directed energy power and cooling technology, and we look forward to briefing them on the outstanding results from the field tests.”