US Army to begin testing vehicle-mounted laser in 2017
Lockheed Martin will deliver a 60 kW-class beam combined fibre laser to the US Army for integration onto a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), following completion of the power and cooling systems testing.
Those tests are expected to take several months. Once the army receives the laser, it will begin its own testing of the capability. Lockheed Martin could not say when the testing would be complete or transition into initial operational capability.
The US Army's Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Alabama, will install the laser on to the HEMTT, which has another laser weapon system integrated onto it now, Rob Afzal, senior fellow for laser and sensor systems at Lockheed Martin, said on 16 March.
"The laser we are delivering will go into that truck. It will upgrade the capability of that truck by a factor of five at least," he said. "The laser we built is not just a laboratory demonstration, it is a piece of hardware that is going to be put on a truck out of our facility [in Bothell, Washington) and shipped down to Huntsville (Alabama) and get [integrated] onto [a HEMTT]."
During a demonstration in March, the company proved it could produce a single beam of 58 kW, Afzal noted.
"There is some more optimising of the system yet to be done, which we will be doing over the next few months before delivery, and we anticipate the delivered number will match the 60 kW number," he said.
The demonstration signalled the company had completed the design and development and met its contractual requirements for the laser, Afzal added.
"We were able to demonstrate that we can take [many] high-power fibre lasers and through our technique of spectral beam combination combine the output of the individual fibre lasers into a single near perfect diffraction-limited beam and generate on the order of 60 kW of output power," Afzal said.