HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Dynetics and its partners won a $10 million contract to continue developing the Army’s 100-kW high energy laser demonstrator, it announced here at the start of the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Ala.
Dynetics is competing with Raytheon [RTN] to win a final $130 million down-select, expected in early 2019, to finishing developing and build a 100 kW laser weapon demonstrator for the Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL TVD) program.
The Army plans for the winner to integrate the laser weapon system onto an Army Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) platform and by 2022 conduct field testing at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
Last month Raytheon said it won its own $10 million contract in this effort. An Army spokesperson told Defense Daily after their announcement that this preliminary design phase ends in February 2019 (Defense Daily, July 3).
Scott Stanfield, Director of Strategic Programs at Dynetics, told Defense Daily in an interview on Tuesday that specifically the vehicle will be an Oshkosh [OSK] N1157 chassis. He noted it will have the “self-contained system on the truck” without a trailer or other vehicles needed.
Last year Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, head of Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, compared the Army’s strategy to develop this 100 kW laser weapon as taking separate bites at a time.
The Army previously showed the capability of 5 and 10 kW lasers placed on a Stryker and High Energy laser Mobile Test Truck (HELMTT), respectively, (Defense Daily, July 19, 2017).
The Army said these tests at White Sands Missile Range, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the Redstone Test Center have shown lasers as “highly successful” at eliminating small-caliber munitions, Class II UAS, and Class I UAS.
While Dynetics is the prime contractor and is managing testing and final assembly of the HEL TVD, Lockheed Martin [LMT] serves as weapon system integrator and is providing the laser and other key subsystems. Final assembly will occur in Huntsville, Ala.
Lockheed Martin is specifically providing the spectral beam-combined fiber laser subsystem it developed earlier for the Army Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) program.
In March 2017 Lockheed Martin demonstrated its laser development by conducting a 60kW laser test, which it called a world record (Defense Daily, March 17, 2017).
Dynetics said its team recently finished a systems requirements review and technical baseline update. This $10 million award is geared toward the next step in the program: working to finish a preliminary design review (PDR) this next January.
Stanfield said the company is about midway through the PDR effort, working through interconnects and detail design issues. He added Dynetics finished a system software specifications review with the Army customer last Friday, so things are “on track.”
“We pulled together a stellar team who have the expertise and knowledge to understand exactly what is needed. We believe that our solution will be straightforward and will be the type of system that will preferred by the Army,” Ronnie Chronister, Dynetics vice president of contracts, said in a statement.
Stanfield agreed, calling Dynetics’ relationship with Lockheed Martin “outstanding” and hailed their expertise and longevity in the laser weapon business. Although he was unable to reveal other team members, he said the company hopefully can reveal them in February, if it wins the down-select.
Iain McKinnie, Lockheed Martin lead for Advanced Laser Solutions and Strategy, noted laser weapons offer deep magazines at a lower cost-per-kill compared to conventional missile or kinetic energy weapons when targeting UAS swarms and rocket, artillery, and mortar (RAM) raids.
“The Army’s HEL TVD program is a critical step toward realizing this potential, culminating in 2022 testing,” he said in a statement.
Lockheed Martin has previous experience working on its Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) 30 kW test laser weapon system, Air Force Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE) program, and the Navy HELIOS program.
Stanfield is confident Dynetics and Lockheed Martin can continue scaling the technology with increasingly powerful lasers, citing fiberoptic fiber lasers as a “gamechanger” when combined with very efficient power sources.
“I think the technology keeps going. Envisioning 200, 300 kW is definitely within the realm of possible.”