The U.S. Department of Defense announced on Friday an agreement with Raytheon Co. Space and Airborne Systems worth about for $24 million.
Raytheon Co. received a $23,8 million contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to develop and supply two prototypes of High Energy Laser Weapon Systems (HELWS).
“This award provides for outside continental U.S. (OCONUS) field assessment for purposes of experimentation including, but is not limited to, 12 months of in-field operation by Air Force personnel against unmanned aerial systems threats,” said DoD.
The U.S. Air Force expected that new Raytheon’s laser weapon system will identify, tracks, and defends against enemy unmanned vehicles and other “close-in” defense situations.
According to the current information, the Raytheon’s system is standalone, with a footprint of roughly 30 square feet. On a single charge from a standard 220v outlet, the same kind you plug your washing machine into at home, the HEL system onboard the light vehicle or buggy delivers four hours of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and 20 to 30 laser shots. The system can also be coupled with a generator to provide virtually infinite magazine depth.
The new laser system would receive a signal from a separate sensor scanning the environment, and then acquire and positively identify the target. A human operator would be responsible for verifying the information provided by the sensor system and then ultimately firing the laser.