The Air Force Research Laboratory took delivery earlier this year of a compact, ruggedized laser developed for potential use as a defensive weapon on fighter aircraft, according to Lockheed Martin which claims the new airborne laser is the smallest, lightest, high-energy laser of its power level built to date.
The company, in an announcement timed to generate interest in advance of the Farnborough Air Show, said it had completed factory acceptance testing and delivered its low-SWaP (size, weight and power) airborne laser to the government during the first quarter of 2022.
“It is the smallest lightest, high-energy laser of its power class that Lockheed Martin has built to date,” Tyler Griffin, the company’s director of Advanced Product Solutions strategy and business development, told reporters. “It is a critical benchmark in developing operational laser weapon systems in the airborne domain.”
The work was completed as part of the Air Force Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE) high-energy laser effort which aims to achieve systems in the 5- to 10-kilogram-per-kilowatt range in the near future to enable employment on tactical aircrafts.
“It is a critical benchmark in developing operational laser weapon systems in the airborne domain and power density and the ruggedization designed to fly on tactical platforms and to take all the weight all the volume out,” Griffin said.