Joint High Power Solid-State Laser

Joint High Power Solid-State Laser

In 2009, Directed Energy Systems reached new heights with its scalable building block approach for compact, electric laser weapons when it produced the most powerful light ray created by an electric laser at that time, measured at more than 105 kilowatts (kW) under the U.S. military's Joint High Power Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) program. The achievement included turn-on time of less than one second and continuous operating time of five minutes, with very good efficiency and beam quality.

This achievement was particularly important because the 100kW threshold had been viewed as a proof of principle for 'weapons grade' power levels for high-energy lasers. Many militarily useful effects can be achieved by laser weapons of 25kW or 50 kW, provided this energy is transmitted with good beam quality.

Northrop Grumman's approach leverages compact, 15kW "building blocks" that can be combined readily to meet the mission at hand. "Mission selectable power" doesn't require new physics to build lasers with "scalable" power." The economies of replication make production predictable, and field servicing becomes a matter of plug-and-play.

Capabilities provided by JHPSSL can address many missions for deployed forces, to include self defense from threats as diverse as rockets, artillery, mortar, swarming boats, UAVs, aircraft, and cruise missiles. It can also enable ultra-precision strike, from a variety of ground, sea, or air-based platforms, to enable prosecution of enemy targets, while minimizing the risk of collateral damage.

The JHPSSL program is funded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology; Office of the Secretary of Defense – High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office, Albuquerque, N.M.; Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; and the Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Va. Responsibility for program execution is assigned to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command / Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Ala.

Solid State Laser Testbed Experiment

In 2010, the Army selected JHPSSL to be integrated with the beam control and command and control systems from another Northrop Grumman-built system, the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL), to provide the Army with the world's first high-power, Solid State Laser Testbed Experiment (SSLTE).

The SSLTE will be used to evaluate the capability of a 100kW-class solid-state laser to accomplish a variety of missions. Those results will be the basis for directing future development of solid-state lasers as a weapon system.

The company has a lead role in integrating and operating the Army's solid-state laser test bed. It brings substantial expertise to this project from many years of experience building and demonstrating tactically-relevant laser systems.