- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Lockheed Martin has parlayed its four decades of laser technology research into a $26.3 million Air Force weapons contract for fighter jets.

A string of successful tests involving laser weapons on the USS Ponce, Apache helicopters, and other military equipment bode well for the Pentagon as the Air Force moves ahead with its Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator program (SHiELD). Maryland-based Lockheed announced this week that it will provide the Air Force Research Lab with a testable Compact Airborne High Energy Laser by 2021.

“Earlier this year, we delivered a 60 kW-class laser to be installed on a U.S. Army ground vehicle,” Rob Afzal, senior fellow of laser weapon systems at Lockheed Martin, said Monday in a press release. “It’s a completely new and different challenge to get a laser system into a smaller, airborne test platform. It’s exciting to see this technology mature enough to embed in an aircraft. The development of high power laser systems like SHiELD show laser weapon system technologies are becoming real.”

Lockheed spokeswoman Kate Scruggs told Business Insider that its weapon will be “used for self-defense against ground-to-air and air-to-air weapons.”

The defense contractor’s product will work in conjunction with a beam-control system developed by Northrop Grumman and a pod created by Boeing, UPI reported.

“We have demonstrated our ability to use directed energy to counter threats from the ground, and look forward to future tests from the air as part of the SHiELD system,” Mr. Afzal said.

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