The U.S. Army expects to reach new technology readiness level of its new laser weapon system in 2028.
The Army is developing the High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL TVD) to address the counter-RAM (Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar) requirements for Indirect Fire Protection Capability, Increment 2 – Intercept (IFPC Inc 2-I).
The new Army’s high-powered laser weapon system is intended to provide 360º protection and simultaneously engage threats arriving from different azimuths.
The current HEL-TVD is a 100 kilowatt -class laser system on a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles platform. It consists of a laser projected through a high-velocity, target-tracking beam control system; power and thermal management systems to power and cool the subsystems; and agility to defeat complex targets. During the past few years, Army S&T work on this effort made significant progress in integrating a militarily significant power level on a tactically relevant platform.
In Fiscal Year 2022, the HEL TVD will demonstrate target acquisition, tracking, aimpoint selection and maintenance, to defeat selected rocket, artillery and mortar threats. The goal of the FY22 demonstration is to confirm that a pre-prototype laser system can defeat RAM threats in an environment similar to the battlefield.
Now the Army is leveraging that progress to merge the HEL-TVD with similar efforts by the Navy and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This partnership will allow the services to achieve a higher-power system that can protect sites from rockets, artillery and mortars and unmanned aerial systems, as well as more stressing threats—significantly increasing the warfighting capability being transitioned.
While the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) pursues this rapid prototyping initiative, the S&T work continues on the next-generation capability. Army Research Laboratory is currently developing proof-of-concept fiber lasers and components and plans to reach Technology Readiness Level 4 (or higher) in 2028.
The Army has been working with industry on a concept for a high-energy laser combat platform to be used in warfighter experimentation.