Lockheed Martin is being awarded a $9.4 million contract for the Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) that aims to fire a laser beam from a UAV.
Under this contract, Lockheed will perform the next step for the LPLD Phase 1 effort that addresses laser power and aperture size by integrating and testing a low power laser on an unmanned aerial vehicle.
The work has an estimated completion date of July 5, 2018. The period of performance is nine-months from Oct. 6, 2017 through July 5, 2018. The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is the contracting activity, a DoD release said.
The MDA is seeking a new high altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle with the unique capacity to carry a high energy laser system that can stop enemy missiles when they have barely left the launch pad. The LPLD project is to demonstrate the feasibility of firing a laser from a UAV before it gets on to developing a high energy laser system.
“Our vision is to shift the calculus of our potential adversaries by introducing these systems into the ballistic missile defense system,” a spokesman for the MDA had said last year. “This could revolutionize missile defense, dramatically reducing the role of kinetic interceptors”.
The MDA is looking for the next generation of laser technology to build upon the Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) and firmly establish a U.S. capacity to defeat enemy ballistic missiles in their Boost Phase.
The LPLD was designed to test the decision by the MDA to use an electric solid-state laser, rather than a chemical one, in its high altitude aerial vehicles. It was intended to demonstrate the exact type of laser and packaging platform that would be needed for the planned HALE UAV, according to the MDA announcement last year.