The Air Force last Friday awarded UES Inc., a Dayton, Ohio-based science-and-technology firm, a $49.1 million contract to develop new technologies to help counter laser attacks against its aircraft.

The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research and development is associated with the service’s flash and laser airborne protection system (FLAPS) program. The contract, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory, allows for “exploratory and advanced research and development of materials and technologies to control, manipulate, and protect against photonic energy,” according to the announcement. 

An artist's rendering of a fighter jet armed with a laser weapon. (Credit: Air Force Research Lab)
An artist’s rendering of a fighter jet armed with a laser weapon. (Credit: Air Force Research Lab)

The goal of the program is to “increase aircrew survivability to flash-blindness and directed energy threats through unique and innovative research and development solutions, and to advance the current state-of-the-art in photonic materials technologies, interactions, and applications,” the company said.

UES has 45 years of experience in materials research and development, to include metals and ceramics, biomaterials and protection materials, as well as biotechnology and power systems distribution, Nina Joshi, UES CEO, said in a statement.

Joshi did not elaborate on what her company will be developing under the FLAPS program, saying, “We will be doing R&D to help them develop materials and develop new protection technologies, and then those will be transitioned to the warfighter.”

“Because of our background in tech transition and technology development, I think we’re well suited for that,” she added.

A synopsis for the FLAPS program posted on FedBizOpps in February notes that the key technical areas of interest include optical materials and processing, and that flash-blindness protection and laser eye protection will be involved in the task order.

Work will be performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 10, 2024. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and four offers were received. About $1 million in fiscal year 2018 research, development, test, and evaluation funds are being obligated at the time of award, according to the Defense Department.