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  • High-Energy Laser Simulator Moved to Arizona
Aug 2003
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., August 25 -- An F-16 high-energy laser weapon simulator that will give pilots practice using lasers to destroy targets was transferred recently from Kirtland Air Force Base to the Air Force Reserach Laboratory (AFRL) fighter weapons training branch in Mesa, Ariz.

Named the high-energy laser fighter, or HEL fighter, it was developed by the AFRL's Directed Energy Directorate and Air Combat Command's theater aerospace command and control simulation facility. The simulator is allowing pilots to become familiar with high-energy laser weapons, using simulated weapons in tactical engagements against airborne and ground targets. It will also help develop tactics, techniques and procedures for new fighter laser systems.

"The ultimate goal is to have pilots use simulators to participate in war games and determine the utility of using high-energy laser weapons against an enemy that is using conventional weapons," said Rudy Martinez, the directorate's HEL Fighter project manager.

Several Air Force and industry organizations helped with the HEL fighter model's development. Lockheed Martin (local simulation facility personnel and corporate employees in Ft. Worth, Texas) integrated the F-16's fire control system and software coding. Employees from Lockheed Martin and Southwest Research Corp. integrated battlespace (the simulated environment in which the fighter would fly) into the model. The directorate's laser-effects research branch determined lethality values.

The New Mexico Air National Guard's 150th Fighter Wing, known as the "Tacos," also based at Kirtland, participated in the simulator development by providing pilot-operator feedback. F-16 pilots were involved in the project from its inception. Personnel in the fighter weapons training branch will provide more feedback, and the data received on F-16 laser weapon engagements will help determine the ability of lasers on fighter aircraft.

The directorate is also investigating the feasibility of developing a common laser target-damage model that can be integrated into laser-weapon simulators. The directorate and Lockheed Martin are investigating the future use of laser weapons on the Joint Strike Fighter, and the HEL Fighter is a major step in that effort, Martinez said.

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