Barely had I blogged on the US Navy's idea using multi-target laser designators to rain Hellfires down on swarming small boats than the service awards Northrop Grumman a contract to demonstrate its other solution to the threat: a high-energy laser.
Photo: US Army
Northrop has been awarded a $98 million contract for the Office Of Naval Research's Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) program, which aims for the at-sea demonstration of a laser weapon mature enough to go straight into development. The demonstration phase is expected to last just 12-18 months.
One of two teams on the Joint High Power Solid-State Laser (JHPSSL) program, Northrop in March beat the goal of demonstrating 100kW laser power in the laboratory. The MLD prototype is to be in the "tens of kilowatts" class, and could be built up from Northrop's Firestrike 15kW laser modules produced using JHPSSL slab laser technology.