Military

Joint High Power Solid State Laser (JHPSSL)

A major focus for FY 2003 is the Joint-High Power Solid State Laser (Joint HPSSL) project. The objective is accelerate the demonstration of the Solid State Laser at initial weapon grade power levels. The power scaling will be 25kW in two years leading to 100kW in an additional two years.

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.

In FY 2007 the JHPSSL project will demonstrate a 100 kilowatt laser. The 100 kilowatt demonstration(s) which will occur during this period provide for independent, government-sponsored measurement of the 100 kilowatt laser(s). The program will explore the need for other high value experiments to follow the 100 kilowatt program and begin planning as appropriate, and continue the component development program with emphasis on improvement of existing power-scaling architectures as well as next generation components and architectures.

Recent advances in solid state laser and other High Energy Laser (HEL) weapons technologies may set the stage for the development of an Army tactical laser weapons capability for the Objective Force. Potential HEL mission areas include counter-air munitions defense and airborne electro-optical sensor countermeasures.

The major effort under the Army Advanced Weapon Technology program is the development of a multi-hundred kilowatt (kW) Solid State Laser (SSL) laboratory demonstration that can be integrated into a HEL weapon to provide increased ground platform-based lethality.

HEL systems have the potential to address the following identified Army capability gaps: 1) Defeat In-Flight Projectiles such as rockets, artillery, mortars, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket propelled grenades, and man-portable surface-to-air missiles; 2) Ultra-Precision Strike with little to no collateral damage; 3) Disruption of Electro-Optical (EO) and Infra-Red (IR) sensors; and 4) Neutralizing mines and other ordnance (especially improvised explosive devices (IEDs)) from a stand-off distance. HELs are expected to complement conventional offensive and defensive weapons at a lower cost-per-shot than current systems.

At weapon system power levels of greater than 100kW, SSL technology has the potential to enhance Future Combat Systems (FCS) survivability by addressing these capability gaps.

Technical issues such as lethality; laser fluence degradation due to atmospheric effects; precision optical pointing and tracking; and effectiveness against low-cost laser countermeasures, must be resolved before any weapon system development can commence.

To support the resolution of these technical issues, the High Energy Laser project will leverage existing laser weapon programs such as the US/Israeli Tactical High Energy Laser Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration, the USAF Airborne Laser Program, and the Department of Energy National Ignition Facility. In addition, this project will develop preliminary system designs to highlight potential subsystem/ component issues attributable to technology integration.

Current funding will develop a diode-pumped 15 kilowatt (kW) solid-state laser breadboard by FY04. Successful progress in this 15kW effort would initiate the development of a 100kW demonstrator scheduled for completion in FY07.

In FY04, the program assembled and demonstrated 32kW of laser power out of a 4-module, diode-pumped Solid State Heat Capacity Laser (SSHCL) breadboard using 10-cm square laser slabs. Modified intra-cavity active resonator and conducted laboratory characterization of the diode-pumped laser device to include thermal cycling time, power management requirements, and beam quality. Demonstrated the major aspects of power scaling and beam combining/quality/efficiency.

In FY05, the program integrates the intra-cavity resonator and sliding laser disk thermal management concept into the SSHCL breadboard design to improve run-time performance. Analyze results of competitive 25 kW Joint High Power Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) Program laboratory demonstrations and independent Government testing; down select best SSL design, and initiate development of a 100kW SSL laboratory device.

The SSL Development, Phase 2 - 100kW in FY06, will procure long lead items and begin integration of components into subsystems that form the basis of a 100kW laboratory laser device that meets the JHPSSL Program Phase 2 performance goals. In FY07, will fabricate remaining components; integrate subsystems into a laser breadboard and conduct preliminary performance tests with an intermediate goal of achieving a 60kW laser output with good beam quality.

The work in this program is consistent with the Army Directed Energy Master Plan and the Army Modernization Plan. Work in this program is related to, and fully coordinated with, efforts in PE 605605A (DOD High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility), PE 0603308A (Army Missile Defense Systems Integration) through FY02, and starting in FY03 PE 0603305A (Army Missile Defense Systems Integration - Non-Space)in accordance with the ongoing Reliance joint planning process and contains no unwarranted duplication of effort among the Military Departments.

Work for this project is performed by the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC), in Huntsville, AL and the Army Test and Engineering Center, White Sands Missile Range, NM. The major contractors for this effort are Raytheon, El Segundo, CA., and Logitech, Inc., Las Cruces, NM.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list