Northrop Grumman Corporation has been selected to develop "military-grade," solid-state laser technology that is expected to pave the way for the U.S. military to incorporate high-energy laser systems across all services, including ships, manned and unmanned aircraft, and ground vehicles.
The 36-month, $56.68 million contract for Phase 3 of the Joint High Power Solid-State Laser (JHPSSL) program was awarded to Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector on Dec. 22, 2005.
Designed to accelerate solid-state laser technology for military uses, the JHPSSL program is funded by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala; Office of the Secretary of Defense - Joint Technology Office, Albuquerque; Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; and the Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Va.
Under the current phase, the program's goal is for a laser system to reach 100 kW, setting the stage for a variety of force protection and strike missions such as shipboard defense against cruise missiles; wide-area, ground-based defense against rockets, artillery, and mortars; and precision strike missions for airborne platforms.
Earlier this year, the Northrop Grumman-led team surpassed a critical milestone on the JHPSSL 2 program when it demonstrated a laser system with a total power of greater than 27 kW with a run time of 350 seconds.
"We're anxious to move forward with scaling up to the 100 kW power level in Phase 3 of the program," noted Alexis Livanos, president of Northrop Grumman Space Technology. "With parallel funding for attendant laser weapon system technologies and demonstrations, systems using very high-power lasers could be deployed in as little as four to five years."
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