US MDA awards contract for low-power laser demonstrator concept


Lockheed Martin has received a contract from the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) for the development of a low-power laser demonstrator (LPLD) missile interceptor concept.

Under the nine-month, $9.4m contract, Lockheed Martin will produce a laser beam control concept demonstrator that can be mounted on an airborne platform and be capable of hitting missiles with a single shot during its boost phase.

The boost phase is the relatively short time window available, usually lasting between one and five minutes, after a missile is launched. During this phase, the missile struggles against the earth’s gravity to gain needed velocity to reach its target, according to MDA.

This phase is considered the best time to intercept a missile as it rules out the deployment of any countermeasures.

"Lockheed Martin has committed millions of dollars to directed energy research and development, laying the groundwork for the laser technology that brings us much closer to an operational system."

According to Lockheed Martin, laser systems can provide the speed and precision capabilities required to destroy a missile during this phase.

Commenting on the contract, Lockheed Martin Strategic and Missile Defense programmes director Sarah Reeves said: "Our low-power laser demonstrator concept puts advanced beam control systems and a fibre laser on a high-performance, high-altitude platform to maximise risk-reduction value over the demonstration period.

"Lockheed Martin has committed millions of dollars to directed energy research and development, laying the groundwork for the laser technology that brings us much closer to an operational system capable of intercepting a missile in its boost phase."

The company has expertise in laser system architectures, ballistic missile defence system integration, platform integration, optics, and beam control.