Northrop Grumman to build beam control for laser weapons designed to protect fighter aircraft

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., 3 Nov. 2016. Laser weapons experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. are helping the U.S. Air Force with beam control to protect current and future fighter aircraft with directed-energy systems.

Nov 3rd, 2016
By Mil & Aero staff
By Mil & Aero staff

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., 3 Nov. 2016.Laser weapons experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. are helping the U.S. Air Force with beam control technology to protect current and future fighter aircraft with directed-energy systems.

A contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., calls for the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems segment in Redondo Beach, Calif., to build the beam-control portion of an airborne laser weapon demonstrator.

This part of the Air Force Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) advanced technology demonstration (ATD) program. The laser weapon will be housed in a pod attached to a fighter-sized aircraft, and tested at speeds to supersonic. AFRL expects to begin flight testing the integrated system by 2019.

The beam-control system characterizes the flight environment for atmospheric disturbances that could distort the laser beam, acquires and tracks incoming targets, determines an aim point for the laser, then “shapes” and focuses the outgoing beam on the target, added Skinner.

Related: Lockheed Martin laser weapons work tackling the problem of atmospheric turbulence

Northrop Grumman is developing the SHiELD beam control system under a segment of the ATD program known as SHiELD Turret Research in Aero Effects, or STRAFE. The current contract was announced in August.

“Our Northrop Grumman-led team is integrating an innovative beam director with proven beam control technologies to help the Air Force define and successfully demonstrate a laser weapon capability for current and next generation aircraft,” said W. Mark Skinner, vice president, directed energy, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

AFRL will integrate STRAFE beam control system with a laser source, and power and cooling systems developed for the SHiELD ATD.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems online at www.northropgrumman.com.

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