The US Army is spending from $17 million to $30 million per year from 2017 to 2021 on High Energy Laser (HEL) weapons technology.
The major effort under this project is the phased approach for mobile high power solid state laser (SSL) technology demonstrations that are traceable to the form, fit, and function requirements for a HEL weapon. At entry level weapon power of around 10 kW, SSL technology has the potential to engage and defeat small caliber mortars, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), surface mines, sensors, and optics. At full weapon system power levels of around 100 kW, SSL technology has the potential to engage and defeat rockets, artillery and mortars (RAM), UAVs, cruise missiles, sensors, and optics at tactically relevant ranges. HELs are expected to complement conventional offensive and defensive weapons at a lower cost-per-shot than current systems and without the need to strategically, operationally, or tactically stockpile ordnance. This effort utilizes a modular building block approach with open systems architecture to ensure growth, interoperability, and opportunity for technology insertions for maturation of laser, beam control, sensor/radar, integration of power and thermal management subsystems, as well as Battle Management Command, Control, and Computers (BMC3).
The program is made up of Laser System Ruggedization and High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrations (HEL MD).