Boeing and GA-EMS to Partner on Development of Directed Energy Prototype

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A team from General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) and Boeing has been awarded a U.S. Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) contract to develop a 300-kW-class solid-state distributed-gain high-energy laser weapon system. The project’s objective is a demonstration of the design.

The system will leverage GA-EMS’ scalable distributed-gain laser technology with Boeing’s beam director and precision acquisition, tracking, and pointing software to provide a complete demonstrator with sophisticated laser and beam control.
Graphical representation of a directed energy system in use. Courtesy of General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems.
Graphical representation of a directed energy system in use. Courtesy of General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems.

“The high-power, compact laser weapon subsystem prototype that GA-EMS will deliver under this contract will produce a lethal output greater than anything fielded to date,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “This technology represents a leap-ahead capability for air and missile defense that is necessary to support the Army’s modernization efforts and defeat next-generation threats in a multidomain battlespace.”

Michael Perry, vice president for lasers and advanced sensors at GA-EMS, described the laser as a packaged version of the distributed-gain (DG) dosing that has previously been demonstrated. "The laser system employs two Gen 7 laser heads in a very compact and lightweight package. Recent architectural improvements have enabled our single-beam DG lasers to achieve comparable beam quality to fiber lasers in a very simple design without the need for beam combination.”

The contract is the latest in a series of directed energy systems projects and outcomes. In August, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory tested directed energy systems in a wind tunnel to prepare the technology for airborne use. That test followed the U.S. Army RCCTO — alongside the Air and Missile Defense Cross Functional Team, the Fires Center for Excellence, and the Army Test and Evaluation Command — participation in the Directed Energy Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE-M-SHORAD) Combat Shoot Off, which took place in Fort Sill, Okla. 

Published: October 2021
directed energy
Directed energy refers to a type of energy that is emitted and transferred in a controlled direction. The term is often associated with military and technological applications where energy, typically in the form of electromagnetic radiation, is focused and directed toward a specific target. Directed energy systems can take various forms, including lasers and high-power microwaves. The key characteristic is the intentional concentration of energy to achieve a desired effect on a target. In...
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