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General Atomics, Boeing to Develop High Energy Laser Weapon System for the U.S. Army

The technology used in directed energy weapons, including lasers and high-power microwaves, is advancing, and warfighters are looking for ways to use it to their advantage on the modern battlefield. General Atomics and Boeing have recently been awarded a U.S. Army contract to create a 300 kW-class solid-state distributed gain high-energy laser weapon system that will exceed anything fielded to date.
General Atomics, Boeing to create a powerful high-energy laser weapon system for the U.S. Army 6 photos
General Atomics and Boeing to develop a high energy laser weapon systemA high energy laser weapon system mounted on a Stryker vehicleA High Energy Laser Mobile Test Truck (HELMTT) laser system integrated on the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical TruckArmy Advances 300kW-class Laser PrototypeGeneral Atomics and Boeing to develop a high energy laser weapon system
Directed energy weapons use highly focused laser energy to destroy long-range targets with precise accuracy. As a result, they have a significant advantage on the battlefield because they can engage at the speed of light and offer a solution to continually evolving threats while eliminating the logistical tail associated with traditional weapon systems.

They are designed to protect sites from threats such as rockets, artillery, and mortars. Not only that, but these weapons are capable of eliminating unmanned aerial systems, rotary and fixed-wing aircraft as well.

General Atomics and Boeing have teamed up to deliver a system that combines both companies' Directed Energy expertise, combining General Atomics' scalable Distributed Gain Laser technology with Boeing's beam director and precision acquisition, tracking, and pointing software to create a complete demonstrator with complex laser and beam control.

Dr. Michael Perry, vice president for lasers and advanced sensors at General Atomics, describes the laser as "a packaged version of the 7th Generation of our Distributed Gain Design already demonstrated. The laser system employs two Gen 7 laser heads in a very compact and lightweight package. Recent architectural improvements have enabled our single-beam DG Lasers to achieve comparable beam quality to fiber lasers in a very simple design without the need for beam combination."

This is not the first time the companies are working on a high-energy laser weapon system. Last year, the two announced that they were joining forces to build a 100 kW-class scalable to 250 kW-class high energy laser. Now, by using the knowledge gained and the proven technologies General Atomics and Boeing will deliver an even more powerful, capable system.

"This technology represents a leap-ahead capability for air and missile defense that is necessary to support the Army's modernization efforts and defeat next-generation threats in a multi-domain battlespace," said Scott Forney, president of General Atomics.

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