High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator

Wednesday Dec. 28, 2016

What is it?

The purpose of the high energy laser tactical vehicle demonstrator (HEL TVD) is to provide a rugged, mobile solid state laser system that meets the size, weight and performance needs of the Army.

The Fires Center of Excellence defined the Army needs in the Capabilities Development Document for the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 - Intercept. Future laser weapon systems will provide low-cost-per-engagement protection from rocket, artillery, mortar (RAM) and unmanned aerial system (UAS) threats.

The objective is to develop and mature laser technologies that will transition from technology development into engineering and manufacturing development.

What is the Army doing?

U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command is working with other Department of Defense components to develop solid state lasers under the Robust Electric Laser Initiative. This effort will deliver a 60-kilowatt fiber laser system in fiscal year 2017.

In early fiscal year 2016, the Army directed USASMC/ARSTRAT to develop a HEL demonstrator, called the “high energy laser tactical vehicle demonstrator,” as an Army capability enabler that would satisfy the requirements in the Capabilities Development Document for the Indirect Fire Protection Capability, Increment 2 - Intercept.

The high energy laser mobile test truck (HELMTT) currently has a 10-kilowatt fiber laser installed in it and has collected more than four terabytes of data on laser propagation in varying environments.

HELMTT also participated in the fiscal year 2016 Maneuver Fires Center of Excellence-sponsored Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment, during which it shot down 15 Group 1 UAS targets.

What continued efforts are planned for the future?

  • HEL TVD will conduct a C-RAM and C-UAS demonstration in fiscal year 2022 that supports potential transition into the PEO Missiles and Space.

  • A 60-kilowatt fiber laser built by Lockheed Martin will be delivered in fiscal year 2017 to be integrated into the HELMTT to produce a 50-kilowatt-class laser system.

  • The HELMTT will conduct a lethality demonstration against a variety of RAM and UAS threats in fiscal year 2018.

Why is this important to the Army?

HEL weapons have the capability to engage numerous targets prior to recharging the power system, precise application of energy with a low probability of collateral damage, speed-of-light engagements, and a capability to provide responses resulting in lethal and non-lethal effects.

Since diesel or other fuel is the only consumable, the incremental cost-per-engagement is measured in the tens of dollars per engagement and could eliminate the requirement for Class V (munitions) storage and handling.

High energy lasers show promise as flexible-response, low-cost-per-engagement weapon systems of the future.

Resources:

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