All of the U.S. military's megawatt-class laser systems are chemical lasers designed and built by Northrop Grumman. Two of those pioneering, high-power laser systems continue to lead the way for the laser weapon systems of tomorrow: The Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser onboard the Airborne Laser Test Bed, and the Tactical High Energy Laser.
Using two solid state lasers and a megawatt-class Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) housed aboard a modified Boeing 747-400 Freighter, the ALTB demonstrates the potential of using directed energy as a viable technology for ballistic missile defense applications.
The U.S. Army's Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL), designed and built by Northrop Grumman, is a critical accomplishment in military directed energy initiatives because it proved that existing technology could be used successfully for a terminal defense system that was fast, accurate and capable of close-in kills with no collateral damage to friendly assets. THEL is a breakthrough for defense at the speed of light.