March 18, 2008 Military laser systems are approaching battlefield readiness with Northrop Grumman having successfully demonstrated the performance of a laser chain, a key component of the Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser.
In Phase 3 of the US$56.68 million JHPSSL program, eight 15kW laser chains of four modules each will combine to achieve a total power of 100kW. The solid state laser technology will be capable of performing force protection and precision strike missions for air, sea, and ground-based platforms.
The laser chain was tested on December 20 last year, and reached 15.3kW - 2.6kW ahead of expectations. Vertical beam quality was measured at 1.58x diffraction limit, surpassing the 2.0 target; turn-on time was 0.8 seconds, below the 1.0 second target; LC1's run time was more than 300 seconds, far beyond the target of 200 seconds; and the Electo-Optical Efficiency was 19.5%.
"Northrop Grumman's JHPSSL will demonstrate the laser technology for the next generation of protection for the nation's warfighters on the ground, in the air, and at sea," said Dan Wildt, vice president of Directed Energy Systems at Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. With the successful demonstration of a complete laser chain – the building block of the fully integrated solid state laser - the hardest part is over."
Laser Chain 2 will be assembled, tested, and integrated with the first laser chain later this year. Northrop Grumman hope to test the solid state laser at full 100kW potential by year’s end.