AFRL awards $26.3 million contract to develop high-power laser weapons systems

BOTHELL, Wash. Lockheed Martin has won a contract worth $26.3 million from the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) for the design, development and production of a high-power fiber laser.

The -- one portion of 's Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program -- is believed to be a major step forward in the maturation of protective airborne laser systems.

According to information from , the SHiELD program includes three subsystems: the SHiELD Turret Research in Aero Effects (STRAFE), the beam control system, which will direct the laser onto the target; the Laser Pod Research & Development (LPRD), the pod mounted on the tactical fighter jet, which will power and cool the laser; and Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE), the high-energy laser itself, which can be trained on adversary targets to disable them. Because LANCE is designed to operate in a compact environment, the Lockheed Martin team focused on developing a smaller, high-efficiency laser within challenging size, weight and power constraints.

AFRL plans to test the laser on a tactical fighter jet by 2021.

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