SHiELD Laser System for Fourth Generation Fighters
Boeing has been awarded a US$90 million contract by the US Air Force to research, develop and deliver an experimental ‘laser pod’ by December 2021.
Observers close to the programme believe the likely system is the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD), intended for integration on to the USAF’s fourth-generation fighter fleet. In August this year Northrop Grumman won a contract to develop the laser beam director turret for SHiELD, which is aimed at protecting combat aircraft from incoming missiles.
Boeing’s heritage in directed energy weapons is a strong one. Development of the High Energy Laser – Mobile Demonstrator (HEL-MD) in 2014 proved the concept of using high energy lasers to track, target, engage and destroy high speed airborne objects.