DARPA seeks small fiber laser diodes for future aircraft laser weapons

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., are asking for industry's help in developing compact, fiber laser diode modules for the Efficient Ultra-Compact Laser Integrated Devices (EUCLID) project (solicitation HR001117S0013).

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ARLINGTON, Va. - Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., are asking for industry's help in developing compact, fiber laser diode modules for the Efficient Ultra-Compact Laser Integrated Devices (EUCLID) project (solicitation HR001117S0013).

The idea is to reduce the size and weight of high-energy laser (HEL) technology, which until now has been too big and heavy for wide deployment on most tactical military aircraft, land vehicles, and small boats. Fiber laser arrays are leading candidates to provide capabilities like silent engagement, deep magazine, scalable effects, and reduced logistics burdens. Fiber laser technology offers electrical-to-optical efficiencies of more than 35 percent, promising beam quality, and modular, scalable architectures with the potential for scalable laser output powers tailored to different missions and payloads.

Small fiber laser diodes could be key enabling technologies for future aircraft laser weapons.

Electro-optics scientists have been able to reduce the size and weight of fiber amplifiers and related HEL technology sufficiently for integration on large military aircraft and trucks, yet DARPA researchers are looking for smaller sizes, lighter weights, and better efficiencies for use on platforms like manned fighter aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and fast maneuverable tactical combat vehicles. Not only would enhancing the size, weight, and efficiencies of fiber laser diode modules lend themselves to laser weapons on tactical military systems, but it also could increase laser power on large platforms like the AC-130 gunship and Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMMIT). More widespread deployment of these laser systems also could stimulate larger market volume and lower unit costs.

The EUCLID project seeks to develop diode pump modules with at least 650 watts of continuous-wave output power, and pump assembly values of at least 3,900 watts, with at least 58 to 60 percent electrical to optical efficiencies.

The two-year DARPA Euclid project will be worth about $6 million, and should involve one or more contractors. The project should select its contractors and start by sometime this July.

Companies interested should submit proposals to the DARPA BAA website at https://baa.darpa.mil. E-mail questions or concerns to HR001117S0013@darpa.mil.

More information is online at www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/HR001117S0013/listing.html.

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