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European Defence Agency claims success with laser weapon project

20 Jun 2023

Pan-European 'TALOS' effort focused on novel wavelength and coherent combining of high-power sources.

The European Defence Agency (EDA) says its “TALOS” project to develop optical technology for future laser weapons has come to a successful conclusion, with two novel demonstrators.

Short for Tactical Advanced Laser Optical System, TALOS began in September 2019 with the aim of delivering a compact laser with the ability to quickly and precisely neutralize an agile target such as a mortar or drone, while significantly minimizing collateral damage.

Led by French firm Compagnie Industrielle des Lasers (CILAS), TALOS featured 15 other partners from industry and academia, including laser weapons expertise from UK-based QinetiQ, MBDA France, and Italian defense contractor Leonardo.

Two demonstrator technologies
Armed with a European Union (EU) grant of €5.4 million, the three-year effort aimed to demonstrate some critical technologies required to produce high-power laser effector for integration in military applications within the next decade.

At the outset of the project, single high-power lasers were limited to an output of around 30 kW, with a perceived risk of dependency on non-EU suppliers.

“The technologies to be demonstrated include elements of the high-power laser source, atmospheric turbulence compensation and precision target tracking and laser pointing systems,” stated the project brief.

Now, says EDA, those objectives have been met. “The main results obtained addressed the following areas: Concept of Operations (CONOPS), target vulnerability, laser developments at 2 µm, laser combining technology, ethics and safety, [and a] roadmap for European Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) systems,” the organization announced.

“The project implementation culminated in the development of two demonstrators: a high-power amplifier at [an] eye-safer wavelength and an innovative propagation demonstrator allowing highly efficient coherent combining on target.”

EDA claims that the results will contribute significantly to enhancing the defense capabilities of the European Union’s member states with critical laser effector technologies at an output power in excess of 100 kW.

UK sovereign effort
Project collaborators QinetiQ, Leonardo, and MBDA are also involved in the UK’s “Dragonfire” effort to produce a sovereign laser weapon capability.

Last year, MBDA said that consortium had successfully carried out the first static firing of a 50 kW laser based around QinetiQ’s phase-combined approach, focused using Leonardo’s beam director, and delivered via MBDA’s advanced image processing and command and control system.

That October 17 firing followed an earlier set of tests indicating that the DragonFire was able to track and hit air and sea targets with exceptionally high accuracy.

“The next step will be to combine the outcomes of these first two trials, pairing the proven tracking accuracy and the high-power laser, by engaging targets in operationally representative scenarios,” added MBDA at the time.

Hyperion OpticsMad City Labs, Inc.SPECTROGON ABABTechHÜBNER PhotonicsBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationFirst Light Imaging
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