Lockheed Martin low-power laser to help UAVs take part in ballistic missile defense

Laser weapons experts at Lockheed Martin are helping the U.S. military develop a laser weapon for a future unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to destroy enemy ballistic missiles shortly after launch.

Dec 1st, 2017
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Laser weapons experts at Lockheed Martin are helping the U.S. military develop a laser weapon for a future unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to destroy enemy ballistic missiles shortly after launch.

Lockheed Martin is developing laser weapon technology that could help unmanned aerial vehicles shoot down enemy ballistic missiles in boost phase.

U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) officials in Albuquerque, N.M., awarded a $9.4 million contract to Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif., for the first phase of the Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) project. Lockheed Martin engineers will build a low-power laser prototype to establish beam stability at long range and the ability to dwell on one spot of a ballistic missile-sized target.

The contract calls for Lockheed Martin perform the next step for the LPLD effort, addressing laser power and aperture size by integrating and testing a low-power laser. The LPLD project is to develop enabling technologies in preparation for developing and testing a future high-energy laser weapon for a high-altitude UAV that will seek to destroy enemy ballistic missiles in boost phase.

Lockheed Martin may not be the only company to be involved in the LPLD project. MDA officials say they expect to award two LPLD contracts this year for a two-phase demonstration program. The yearlong first phase is for system design, and the second phase will build, integrate, and test a functional low-power laser for beam control and stability. MDA officials anticipate a low-power flight test by 2020 and beam stability testing by 2021.

Lessons learned from the LPLD project are expected to help government and industry experts develop solid-state lasers strong enough to destroy enemy ballistic missiles in boost phase from UAVs operating at high altitudes. The LPLD project's low-power laser demonstrator should help military and defense industry experts understand how to use high-altitude UAVs to destroy missiles in boost phase with lasers, and ways to aim the laser, keep it steady on target, and focus the laser sufficiently to destroy the missile at it leaves the launch pad.

Lockheed Martin will do the work in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto, Calif.; Louisville, Colo.; and Albuquerque, N.M., and finish by July 2018.

For more information visit Lock-heed Martin online at www.lockheedmartin.com.

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