Directed Energy Solutions (DES) of Colorado Springs, Colo., has received a $4.8 million contract from the Missile Defense and Defense Advanced Research Projects agencies for the first-phase development of a high-energy "air laser" for the US Department of Defense. The technology is based on the diode pumping of an electronic transition in liquid oxygen. The 15-month contract will encompass systems engineering and laser design, fabrication and testing. Raytheon Missile Systems, Aculight Corp., nLight Photonics Corp. and Decade Optical Systems Inc. are part of the DES contract team.In other news, DES was awarded a $1.6 million contract (half of which is basic and half optional) from the Airborne Laser Program Office, co-sponsored by the Defense Department. The YAL-1A, popularly known as the Airborne Laser, is designed to protect against ballistic missile attacks. It is flown in a modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft. Under the contract, DES will seek to enhance the chemical generation process for the excited oxygen that powers the laser. It is expected that the laser will be lighter in weight and have greater power and efficiency as a result.