REDONDO BEACH, Calif., 13 Oct. 2006. A new diode-pumped solid-state, next-generation illuminator laser developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. delivered multi-kilowatt output power while operating at 5,000 pulses per second during recent tests, company officials reported.
The Strategic Illuminator Laser (SILL) met all technical performance requirements, and Northrop Grumman officials claim testing showed the device to be the highest power, brightest laser of its kind ever built.
SILL operated at 5 kHz for five minutes during the test with outstanding beam quality, company officials say. The SILL Phase 2 demonstration program seeks to develop the next generation of illuminator lasers for air and space applications. Funding for the SILL program comes from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Washington.
"In addition to our success with SILL, Northrop Grumman has been leading the development and demonstration of complete laser systems," says Alexis Livanos, president of Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector in Redondo Beach, Calif. "Good beam quality and a long run time are proven hallmarks of our systems."
Illuminator lasers, which are critical components of all high-energy laser weapons, are used together with tracking sensors to help point the laser weapon at the target. They also work with wavefront sensors to help clean up atmospheric distortion in the laser beam so that the beam can focus to a small spot at the target.
The company won the SILL risk reduction, design and demonstration Phase 2 contract in 2004, and in late 2005 it was awarded a Phase 3 contract, which includes the fabrication and test of a brassboard device.
The SILL brassboard design shows that it will be significantly smaller and lighter compared with current high-power illuminator systems. It is also designed to withstand environmental temperatures from -50 to 50 degrees Celsius.
For more information contact the Northrop Grumman Corp. Space Technology sector online at www.st.northropgrumman.com.