Lockheed Martin has book Airborne High Energy Laser (AHEL) to the US Air Force (USAF), for the purpose of mounting it on AC-130J combat helicopters.
The laser system will go through the system integration process followed by ground tests leading to flight tests on board the aircraft.
Rick cordaro, vice president of Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions, called it a “remarkable achievement” and added that “these mission success milestones are a testament to our partnership with the USAF in making rapid strides forward in the development of laser weapon systems ”. He said Lockheed’s technology is “ready for deployment today.”
Flight test likely by next year
The US defense giant was awarded a contract to develop, integrate, test and demonstrate the laser weapon system in 2019. According to National interest, the AHEL is a small in pod laser weapon capable of being “mated to the side of the airframe and serving alongside the other weapons” of the aircraft.
Lockheed did not provide a future timeline for the weapons integration process, however, The war zone revealed that flight testing of an AHEL-armed AC-130J is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2022, quoting the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
60 kilowatts of power
The outlet, again citing SOCOM, said the system’s laser has a power of 60 kilowatts, putting it in the same range as the high-energy laser with built-in optical glare and monitoring (HELIOS), another Lockheed Martin system to be deployed on US Navy ships to counter drones and rapid attack boats.
Meanwhile, the Dahlgren division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center awarded Lockheed Martin a five-year, $ 12 million contract in July for “technical services, integration, testing and demonstration of the AHEL system.”