The US Navy Office of Naval Research has awarded Raytheon US$11 million adapt a tactical laser weapon systems to a vehicle-based laser device, capable of defeating low-flying threats such as enemy drones. For the field demonstration planned by ONR Raytheon will integrate a short-range laser weapon system on a HMMWV. When systems are fielded they are likely to deploy on the future Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). Some of the system’s components have already been tested under the ‘Ground Based Air Defense (GBAD) Directed Energy On-the-Move Future Naval Capabilities’ program, demonstrating detection and fire control functions of the system, with the compact phased array radar detecting and tracking UAVs of all sizes. Later in the year, researchers will test the entire system against targets using a 10kW laser as a stepping stone to a 30kW laser. Raytheon will deliver a laser with a minimum power output of 25kW will be used. According to ONR, the 30kW system is expected to be ready for field testing in 2016. Tests will evaluate the complete intercept process, from detection and tracking to firing, all battle-damage assessment, all based on sensors and effectors integrated on the test vehicle.
“Raytheon’s laser solution generates high power output in a small, light-weight rugged package ideally suited for mobile platforms,” said Bill Hart, vice president of Raytheon Space Systems. Raytheon’s planar waveguide (PWG) technology is the key to its unique approach to high energy lasers. Using a single PWG, the size and shape of a 12 inch ruler, Raytheon high energy lasers generate sufficient power to effectively engage small aircraft. According to Hart, the technology implemented for the test is scalable to more powerful systems. “Our PWG laser architecture is scalable: we can achieve increasingly higher power levels with the same compact design we’re using for GBAD.” he said. With the proliferation of UAVs in the modern battlefield, the Marine Corps expect that units increasingly will have to defend themselves against adversaries trying to perform reconnaissance, surveillance and attack from the air by unmanned systems. According to Col. William Zamagni, head of ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department, GBAD will give the Marine Corps a capability to counter those UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces. “GBAD employed in a counter UAV role is just the beginning of its use and opens myriad other possibilities for future expeditionary forces.”