Tactical Relay Mirror System (TRMS)
Tactical Redirected Energy Initiative
The Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation is evaluating a plan to use relay mirrors with a 15- to 25-kilowatt laser. This "redirected" energy weapon would not suffer line-of-sight limitations, and could hit targets quickly with minimal collateral damage. The Tactical Redirected Energy initiative would place a laser in a transportable container [such as a connex box] with the tactical relay mirror integrated on a unmanned aerial vehicle or aerostat balloon.
In theater, the connex box would be placed in a secure enclave, such as the Green Zone, with the air vehicle flying above. When a target is spotted, the laser beam would be directed toward the hovering platform, and the relay mirror would redirect the beam to the target.
The Air Force Research Lab is developing the tactical relay mirror. The OFT invested $4 million in FY2005 for technology development. This is expected to lead to designs for the tactical mirror relay system by January 2006. This consists of plans for the palletized 800- to 1,000-pound tactical mirror relay system on a Predator B UAV or aerostat balloon, as well develop an operator console.
The AFRL's Directed Energy Directorate calls its overall relay-mirror paradigm Evolutionary Aerospace Global Laser Engagement, or EAGLE. They have several experiments planned in the near term for potential relay-mirror concepts used in conjunction with ground-based lasers.
Most work on solid-state lasers has focused on developing a 100 kW device that would be capable of shooting targets as cruise missiles. The Army plans to spend $22 million in FY-06 and FY-07 for a solid-state laser weapons system demonstrator for the Joint High Power SSL.
As of early 2005 five candidates were under consideration for the laser: three are systems competing for the Joint High Powered Solid State Laser program, developed separately by Lockheed Martin, the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California, and Northrop Grumman; a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency effort to develop a 15 to 20 KW laser; and a Boeing proposal to bundle several smaller 3 KW lasers into a 12 KW package.
Boeing's Laser and Electro Optical Systems (L&EOS) has started studies and is working with the government to demonstrate an Advanced Relay Mirror System (ARMS) concept by 2006. As envisioned, ARMS would offer a range extension to a variety of high-energy laser platforms.
It is estimated that $50 million would be required to complete the development of the tactical relay mirror. The system could be demonstrated, possibly in Iraq, in as few as 18 to 24 months, that is, by late 2006. The Predator would take about two years, and perhaps 18 months for an aerostat. The relay mirrors could also be used in conjunction with the Advanced Tactical Laser.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|