Raytheon Company and the U.S. Army Apache Program Management Office, in collaboration with U.S. Special Operations Command, recently completed a successful flight test of a high energy laser system onboard an AH-64 Apache at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The demonstration marks the first time that a fully integrated laser system successfully engaged and fired on a target from a rotary-wing aircraft over a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes and air speeds.
The test achieved all primary and secondary goals, providing solid experimental evidence for the feasibility of high resolution, multi-band targeting sensor performance and beam propagation supportive of High Energy Laser (HEL) capability for the rotary-wing attack mission. Additionally, the system performed as expected while tracking and directing energy on a number of targets. The design of future HEL systems will be shaped by the data collected on the impact of vibration, dust and rotor downwash on HEL beam control and steering.
«Our goal is to pull the future forward», said Art Morrish, vice president of Advanced Concept and Technologies for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. «This data collection shows we’re on the right track. By combining combat proven sensors, like the MTS, with multiple laser technologies, we can bring this capability to the battlefield sooner rather than later».
In this test Raytheon coupled a variant of the Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS), an advanced electro-optical infrared sensor, with a laser. The MTS provided targeting information, situational awareness and beam control.
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) announced the successful completion of the Factory Acceptance Test for the 60 kW Spectrally Combined High Power Solid State Fiber Laser program March 16.
During the testing conducted last week, the laser demonstrated a sustained power of 57.5 kW for a duration of 200 seconds with good beam quality. This level exceeds the contract threshold for success, and with the addition of three more channels planned before delivery, power will exceed the 60-kW program objective.
This important technical milestone represents the first successful demonstration of a high-power fiber laser at this power level for defense applications. After delivery, the laser will be integrated with the High-Energy Laser Mobile Test Truck where it will be used in test environments to support analyses and studies related to warfighting applications.
The laser was designed and built by Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bothell, Washington, and was managed by USASMDC/ARSTRAT Technical Center’s High Energy Laser Branch, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal.