Lockheed Martin [LMT] has delivered the new Airborne High Energy Laser (AHEL) to the Air Force for flight testing on an AC-130J aircraft following a successful factory acceptance testing period, the company said Wednesday.

“Completion of this milestone is a tremendous accomplishment for our customer,” Rick Cordaro, vice president of Lockheed Martin Advanced Production Solutions, said in a statement. “These mission success milestones are a testament of our partnership with the U.S. Air Force in rapidly achieving important advances in laser weapon system development. Our technology is ready for fielding today.”

An AC-130J taxis the runway for its first official sortie Jan. 31, 2014, at Eglin AFB, Fla. Photo: Air Force.

Lockheed Martin received a contract in January 2019 to integrate and demonstrate AHEL on an AC-130J, with the laser system now set to go through ground testing ahead of demonstration on the aircraft.

In July, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division then awarded Lockheed Martin a five-year, $12 million deal for further post-delivery services with AHEL, to include integration and demonstration activities, the company also said Wednesday.

Special Operations Command has said previously it wants to test a 60-kilowatt, solid-state laser on an AC-130 gunship by fiscal year 2022 (Defense Daily, Feb. 6 2019). 

Tyler Griffin, business development director for Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems’ advanced product solutions, told reporters ahead of the announcement the company could not disclose AHEL’s specific power level, but added it’s in “the same class as the HELIOS high-energy laser that was delivered to the U.S. Navy.”

Lockheed Martin delivered its production unit 100-kilowatt-range High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance, or HELIOS, to the Navy in January for installment on a destroyer later this year (Defense Daily, Jan. 11 2021).