The team tasked with developing the Army’s first 100 kilowatt laser, Dynetics and Lockheed Martin [LMT], told reporters Thursday the plan is to complete a critical design review of the system this fall and deliver the final technology demonstrator in August 2022.
Ronnie Chronister, Dynetics’ senior vice president of contracts, said the team will work over the next three years on integrating technology for the high energy laser weapon that is expected to be onboarded to the Army’s plans for its future cruise missile defense system, Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC).
“Our role in this will be basically to integrate those various pieces onto the system to actually produce the tactical vehicle demonstrator,” Chronister said. “The laser technology, itself, is where it needs to be to where it can actually be employed on a battlefield. If you had said that 10 years ago, people would have laughed at you that we would be where we’re at. I give credit to Lockheed for maturing that technology.”
Dynetics beat out Raytheon [RTN] to receive a three-year, $130 million deal for the High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL TVD) to develop a 100 kw laser system to be integrated on Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (Defense Daily, May 15).
Chronister noted Dynetics started on the laser weapon effort as one six companies the Army selected in 2017 to detail potential technology and integration concepts.
The Army then downselected to three companies tasked with developing a technology pathway, before eventually going with the Dynetics team and Raytheon to participate in a preliminary design review this past January.
The new deal was officially awarded to the team of Dynetics, Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce in February following the preliminary design review (PDR).
Tyler Griffin, Lockheed Martin’s director of laser and sensor systems, cited the company’s previous work developing a 60 kw laser for the Army under the Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) program as a key factor in the team’s selection for HEL TVD.
“The Army’s acquisition process led to the incremental de-risking of any invention required. And the significant risk reduction that Team Dynetics was able to produce at the preliminary design review spoke to our ability to scale from our prior 60 kw RELI demonstrator to this HEL TVD [100 kw] requirement,” Griffin said.
Once the technology demonstrator is delivered in 2022, Army officials will likely examine plans for onboarding the laser weapon system as part of the second increment for IFPC, Griffin noted.
“The requirements that we went through and achieved for that PDR were derived from that specific mission requirement. The on-ramp plans will be contingent upon Team Dynetics successful delivery. And we will successfully deliver in partnership with the Army and support their on-ramp plans accordingly,” Griffin said.
Chronister called Lockheed Martin’s capability the “preeminent laser technology in the country, maybe the world,” and attributed the team’s selection to the partnership between the two as well as Rolls-Royce’s thermal power technology.
“The agility of all three of our companies working we were told was very significant,” Chronister said. “The laser technology, itself, is where it needs to be to where it can actually be employed on a battlefield. If you had said that 10 years ago, people would have laughed at you that we would be where we’re at. I give credit to Lockheed for maturing that technology.”
The team is currently is discussing potentially working on future directed energy opportunities across the services, according to Chronister.