Lockheed Martin [LMT] has achieved “first light” of the new directed energy system it plans to offer for the Army’s expected competition to field a Stryker-mounted 50-kilowatt laser system, the company said Monday.
The new milestone for the Directed Energy Interceptor for Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense System (DEIMOS) system “verifies that the laser’s optical performance parameters align with the system design parameters,” according to the company.
“The 50kw-class laser weapon system brings another critical piece to help ensure the U.S. Army has a layered air defense capability,” Rick Cordaro, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of advanced product solutions, said in a statement. “DEIMOS has been tailored from our prior laser weapon successes to affordably meet the Army’s larger modernization strategy for air and missile defense and to improve mission success with 21st century security solutions.”
Lockheed Martin officials told reporters in October the “first light” effort is part of the lab testing for DEIMOS, which is expected to continue through this year while working toward field integration testing in 2024 (Defense Daily, Oct. 3 2022).
“First light from the system is hugely significant because it takes, for the first time, laser modules and combines them all the way through the system,” Tyler Griffin, Lockheed Martin’s advanced product solutions business development director, said at the time. “What we’re effectively doing…is showcasing an end-to-end weapon system that has the performance that we’ve predicted. And that then builds the momentum for the demos throughout the FY ‘23 period of performance.”
Lockheed Martin first detailed DEIMOS in October 2021, which the company is developing to meet the Army’s Directed Energy Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) requirement (Defense Daily, Oct. 11 2021).
Currently, the Army’s DE M-SHORAD program is focused on a prototyping effort with Kord Technologies providing the 50-kw laser system and Raytheon Technologies [RTX] serving as the laser module integrator.
The Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) is currently leading the prototyping effort for DE M-SHORAD, which is intended to deliver an on-the-move laser system capable of taking down unmanned aerial systems, rotary-wing aircraft and rockets, artillery and mortars, before it’s transitioned over to Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space for the production program of record.
Lockheed Martin said the “first light” mark for DEIMOS “measures the expected beam quality of the system while testing end-to-end performance of our game-changing, low-cost Spectral Beam Combination (SBC) architecture.”
“The key benefit of the company’s SBC is that power can be scaled while retaining the excellent beam quality of the individual fiber lasers,” the company said in a statement.
Lockheed Martin has also said it’s leveraging lessons learned for DEIMOS from its Layered Laser Defense (LLD) capability, which is an internal investment effort that successfully defeated two cruise missile surrogates during a February 2022 demonstration.
Griffin told reporters in October many of the LLD attributes are similar to the DEIMOS system architecture “such as allowing for one single operator to engage and destroy short-range air defense targets,” adding that Lockheed Martin is focused on affordability and “production readiness of a ruggedized system.”