Defense contractor Dynetics recently announced plans that could triple the power of the vehicle-mounted laser systems they’re developing for the Army.
The company currently offers a unit capable generating up to 100 kilowatts of power, which is not strong enough to generate a laser capable of destroying an incoming RAM surface-to-air missile, cruise missile, or munitions from unmanned aerial systems.
In addition to increasing the power output of the missile, Dynetics is also revamping their work to provide a way of installing the higher-powered laser on mid-sized tactical vehicles, which, for comparison, would roughly be the next size up from a Humvee.
Dynetics’ $130 million contract calls for the delivery of four 300-kilowatt prototype laser weapons to be delivered by 2024, but the real benefits could go well beyond these prototypes.
Once successful, these more powerful lasers could be utilized by other branches of the Armed Forces. The U.S. Navy, in particular, has been doing a great deal of research on how to bring a weapon on to the decks of their battleships and carriers to help defend against the threats of missiles and UAVs.
The Navy’s High-Energy Laser with Integrated Optical Dazzler and Surveillance, or HELIOS weapons system, currently tops out at roughly 150 kilowatts, which is still not enough to take out a cruise missile.
The key to developing these weapons systems is not just upping the power, but configuring the supporting power supplies and cooling components that will be needed to keep them firing.