The US Air Force will shortly begin testing a laser that will be mounted on an F-15, an official said on Monday.
“We have got tests starting this summer and the flight tests next summer,” Jeff Stanley, deputy assistant secretary of the US Air Force for science, technology and engineering, told reporters.
“There are still some technical challenges that we have to overcome, mainly size, weight, power.”
The Pentagon last year awarded a $26 million contract to Lockheed Martin for a laser program called SHiELD (Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator).
The overall aim is to put a laser system on aircraft with an output of about 50 kw to test their ability against unmanned aircraft and missiles.
Recently, Qinetiq discussed the schedule for the testing of ‘Dragonfire’ a new British laser directed energy weapon.
The first project to be undertaken at the new Dragonworks laser test facility will be the assembly and testing of the laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) currently in development by the UK’s Dragonfire consortium.
Components will arrive in early 2018, when QinetiQ will begin building the weapon’s laser source in the purpose-built clean room. Over the following months, the laser source will undergo a process of evaluation and adjustment before being integrated with Leonardo’s beam director.
The project will culminate in operation at full-power under test conditions inside the facility in summer 2018, before it is transported to MOD Shoeburyness for long-range outdoor trials later in the year.
Data collected using the Reflective Hazard Assessment Tool will inform the safety case for these and future trials, ensuring the reflectivity of targets is fully understood and any risk mitigated accordingly.
Peter Cooper, the Project Technical Authority in Dstl, which manages the Dragonfire contract on behalf of the UK MOD, said regarding the new test facility:
“This facility is a key step in delivering the Dragonfire project and reflects the continuing UK MOD investment, supported and enabled by industry funding, amounting to tens of millions of pounds in UK industrial skills and capabilities and underpinning UK prosperity.”