According to Rolls-Royce, a battery-only laser weapon comes with the disadvantage of having to stop operating when batteries need to be recharged or replaced. This is why ColdFire combines a battery-powered firing mode with a near-continuous one, thanks to a compact and fuel-efficient M250 gas turbine engine.
This advanced power and thermal management system offer a deep magazine power capability, which translates to extended firing capability. This means that the laser weapon is able to engage more targets with a longer range.
Plus, Rolls-Royce included a cutting-edge cooling technology that helps disperse the huge amount of heat generated by the laser system. The company’s gas-turbine engines operate at temperatures higher than the melting point of metal while still able to maintain their efficiency for thousands of hours. ColdFire also incorporates this highly-efficient thermal management technology.
The ColdFire system was developed by the Rolls-Royce advanced technology unit called LibertyWorks, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. It took more than a decade to develop and test this advanced technology, the result of a $50 million investment.
The LLD is a versatile weapon meant to counter both unmanned aerial vehicles and fast-attack boats, using a high-resolution telescope and a high-power laser. It’s a modern type of laser running (partially) on electricity, which makes it safer and more affordable to operate. The LLD was developed for demonstration purposes only, but it could become the basis for a new generation of directed energy weapons.