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Nuburu, Coherent, and nLight contracted for laser weapons development

05 Apr 2023

US firms to share $75M award along with Rolls-Royce Liberty Works, General Atomics, Dynetics, and Lockheed Martin Aculight.

Blue laser developer Nuburu is among seven US-based companies recently contracted by the Department of Defense (DOD) to further develop solid-state high-energy laser weapons.

The Colorado company, which floated on the US stock market earlier this year, is taking part in a $75 million effort to make and deliver prototypes and equipment for so-called directed energy weapons.

The other companies contracted under the same award include divisions of Rolls-Royce, General Atomics, Dynetics, and Lockheed Martin, as well as Coherent and nLight. The program runs for five years.

Automated manufacturing
Nuburu’s CEO and co-founder Mark Zediker said in a release announcing its participation: “Nuburu has the ability to manufacture laser diode, fiber-optic and optical subsystems in the US, making us well positioned to support the DOD with its needs regarding this critical next-generation national security issue.

“We are proud to use our automated manufacturing capabilities and a workforce entirely based in the US to provide high-power laser subsystems for our customers.”

The other companies involved have all been regular participants in previous laser weapon development efforts, with Lockheed Martin’s Aculight subsidiary, nLight, and Coherent-owned Nufern all playing significant roles.

Back in 2019, the US Army agreed a contract with Dynetics, Lockheed, and Rolls-Royce Liberty Works to provide a 100 kilowatt laser weapon that could be mounted on a truck.

And last year Lockheed said that it had delivered a 300 kilowatt electrically driven laser - the most powerful it has ever produced - based on spectral beam combining of several lasers emitting at slightly different wavelengths.

This latest DOD award, confirmed in mid-March, is being made via the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Dahlgren Division in Virginia, which has been involved in several previous laser weapons development initiatives.

Additional funding sought
Meanwhile, Nuburu last week released further details about its latest financial position in a “10-K” annual report filed with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

The filing states that Nuburu received net proceeds of $3.2 million in late January when it completed its special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) business combination with Tailwind Acquisition Corp.

That filing followed a separate update from the firm suggesting that annual sales would rise to more than $3 million this year, more than double the 2022 figure.

“We continue to review and make necessary adjustments to our product development roadmap to be aligned with our current and prospective customer relationships and to best utilize our company resources,” added Zediker.

“As such, we expect our 2023 revenues to be weighted towards the second half of the year. We anticipate that momentum will provide the critical foundation for additional revenue acceleration in 2024.”

With cash outflow of around $25 million now expected in 2023, the company is also looking at ways to raise additional cash.

Nuburu’s CFO Brian Knaley commented: “As we’ve completed our transition to being a public company and look to solidify our competitive position, we expect to engage with the financial markets to strengthen our balance sheet.

“We intend to utilize additional funding sources to allow Nuburu to accelerate our growth trajectory by enabling us to further invest in technology and other resources designed to drive our growth in 2023 and beyond.”

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