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Lockheed Martin achieves ‘first light’ in latest laser weapon demonstration

24 Jan 2023

Lab specified to verify beam quality of firm’s 50 kW-class laser architecture designed for the U.S. Army.

Lockheed Martin has achieved “first light” from its Directed Energy Interceptor for Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense System (DEIMOS) system, which verifies that the high energy weapon laser’s optical performance parameters align with the system design parameters.

The 50 kW-class DEIMOS system is a ruggedized, tactical laser weapon system that can be integrated into the U.S. Army’s Stryker combat vehicle to “deliver robust directed energy capability to the U.S. Army’s challenging maneuver-short range air defense (M-SHORAD) mission.”

Rick Cordaro, VP, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions, commented, “The 50 kW-class laser weapon system brings another critical piece to help ensure the U.S. Army has a layered air defense capability. DEIMOS has been tailored from our prior laser weapon successes to affordably meet the Army’s larger modernization strategy for air and missile defense and to improve mission success.”

‘Crucial milestone’

Lockheed Martin says its DEIMOS first light demonstration “is a crucial milestone along the path to helping the Army perform its DE M-SHORAD mission, which is intended to deliver a maneuverable laser system capable of negating unmanned aerial systems, rotary-wing aircraft and rockets, artillery and mortars.”

First light measures the expected beam quality of the system while testing end-to-end performance of our game-changing, low-cost Spectral Beam Combination (SBC) architecture. The key feature of the company’s SBC is that power can be scaled while retaining the excellent beam quality of the individual fiber lasers.

In 2022, Lockheed Martin demonstrated Layered Laser Defense (LLD) capability by defeating two surrogate cruise missiles at tactically relevant ranges. The company says this LLD capability has the following characteristics:

  • Shares many common elements with the DEIMOS system architecture, such as allowing for a single operator to engage and destroy SHORAD targets;
  • Can be seamlessly integrated into various platforms; and
  • Can fit on tactical platforms such as a Stryker vehicle because it was designed with constraints in terms of size, weight and power (SWaP).

Utilizing a philosophy of “build a little, test a little, learn a lot,” Lockheed Martin says it will be expanding the DEIMOS test program in 2023, culminating with field integration tests in 2024. This thorough approach is designed to reduce risk, to enable soldier touchpoints and to provide proof points of compelling mission capabilities.

The U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office is leading the DE M-SHORAD prototyping effort and is expected to transition the program to the Program Executive Office Missiles & Space in 2024.

EKSMA OpticsSantec U.S.A. CorporationEdmund Optics GmbHLightTrans International GmbHDIAMOND SALASEROPTIK GmbHCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.
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