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Bringing “Star Wars” to the Realm of Operations

2018 Space & Missile Defense Symposium Day 3 (9 August)

As announced this 6 August, and published on MONch (here), the US Army awarded Team Dynetics (Dynetics, Lockheed Martin and its partners) a contract to continue development for the next phase of the High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL TVD) programme, a 100-kilowatt (kW) class laser weapon system. Team Dynetics is competing with a Raytheon-led team to advance to the HEL TVD programme’s next phase; down select is planned following preliminary design reviews in January 2019. Dynetics and Lockheed Martin are operating under guidance not to divulge their other industry partners.

Several Team Dynetics principals shared additional insights about this contract and programme, and laser technologies for defence requirements.

During this interview, MONch suggested the military-industry community has quickly advanced the technology baseline for lasers for defence, for instance, the Pentagon’s discontinued air borne laser demonstrations were conducted with chemical-based systems housed in a reconfigured B747.

Tyler Griffin, Director and Site General Manger for Laser and Sensor Systems at Lockheed Martin, responded: “I give a lot of credit to Redstone Arsenal and the Huntsville community for progressing laser systems from CO2 to chemical sources, where now solid-state electric lasers are being developed.”

Similarly, Ronnie Chronister, Dynetics’ Vice President of Contracts, matter-of-factly pointed out the men and women working in the directed energy offices at Army Space and Missile Defense Command, “have done a tremendous job in bringing a ‘Star Wars concept’ to the realm of operations to protect our assets.”

Further, the 100kW weapon to be demonstrated until January, is a step up from a 60kW ground system Lockheed Martin delivered to the Army in March 2017 as part of the army’s Robust Electric Laser Initiative programme. For its part, Lockheed Martin provides the spectral beam-combined fibre laser subsystem, as well as other key subsystems, and performs laser weapon system integration for HEL TVD.

Dynetics is drawing on the experience of systems engineering, manufacturing, test and vehicle modifications for integration of a mobile 100 kW-class laser weapon system fully integrated on one US Army (Oshkosh Defense) Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) truck.

HEL TVD is envisioned by the army customer to defeat unmanned aerial systems and rockets, artillery and mortars threatening deployed US troops.

The two remaining contractors are competing to build the demonstrator – a mobile 100kW-class laser weapon system fully integrated with an army FMTV truck – that will be tested in 2022.

Marty Kauchak

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