Raytheon Is Developing A 100kW Tactical Laser For The US Army

Raytheon is developing a mobile 100 kW laser weapon system under the U.S. Army’s $10 million High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstration (HEL TVD) program contract. With the Pentagon flush with cash from the Trump administration, laser weapon systems have been a significant focus regarding research and development before the next round of global hybrid conflicts.

In a recent news release, Raytheon said the 100 kW laser would be mounted on a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV).

“The beauty of this system is that it’s self-contained,” said Roy Azevedo, vice president of Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems at Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business unit.

As Azevedo adds, “multi-spectral targeting sensors, fiber-combined lasers, power and thermal sub-systems are incorporated in a single package. This system is being designed to knock out rockets, artillery or mortar fire, or small drones."

HEL TVD is part of the Army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability, Increment 2 — Intercept (IFPC Inc 2-I), which is a rugged, mobile, pre-prototype laser system that meets the size, weight and performance requirements of the Army.

The laser system mounted on the FMTV can eliminate aerial threats, including artillery, cruise missiles, drones, mortars, and rockets.

To date, the program tested lasers at various strengths, from 2kW to 50 kW. Last year, Lockheed Martin announced it completed the development of a single-beam 60 kW laser for the program. The next phase, which could be as early as 2019, could test a massive 100kW multi-beam fiber-laser design, considered to be just enough directed energy to take down most aerial threats.

Ahead of the coming "hybrid wars", the Army recognizes that lasers could provide a significant advantage over its adversaries. Laser weapons have “unlimited” ammunition, as long as a power plant can continue to deliver energy. With an average cost per kill of $30, laser weapons are significantly cheaper than traditional kinetic weapons, such as mortars and rockets that can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars per round.

The Army will test and evaluate the mounted laser system on an FMTV in the first half of 2019. If successful, a three-year system development, and demonstration contract estimated at $130 million, to build and integrate a weapon system, could be next. The Army hopes by the Fiscal year 2022, the HEL TVD will have enough data through field training exercises that it could enter service shortly thereafter.

The HEL TVD could see its first mission in the mid-2020s, as the most likely place for deployment could be the U.S. and allied force’s fixed and semi-fixed bases.

Over the year, the Army and U.S. defense contractors have been busy mounting lasers on all sorts of war machines.

In March, Raytheon decided to mount a 5 kW laser on a militarized all-terrain Polaris light-vehicle. The company’s press release describes the vehicle as an “agile, mobile, and effective” war machine to protect troops from weaponized unmanned drone threats.

The push for lasers could be explained by the Army’s rush to plug the gap in short-range defenses.

Richard P. DeFatta, director, Future Warfare Center, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command spilled the beans in February on air and missile defense and told an audience that Army conducted field training exercises with the first-ever Mobile High Energy Laser (MEHEL) mounted on the M1126 Stryker armored personnel carrier. The Stryker-mounted MEHEL is designed for short-range aerial threats, such as weaponized drones.

MEHEL is a 5kW laser system mounted on a Stryker-armored fighting vehicle chassis and serves as the primary vehicle for research and development. The Army acknowledges that high-energy lasers are a “low-cost, effective complement to kinetic energy to address rocket, artillery, and mortar, or RAM, threats; unmanned aircraft systems and cruise missiles,” said Army Recognition.

However, it is not just Washington and its military-industrial-complex mounting laser systems on exciting things. China announced earlier this week that its ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle could “burn through clothes in a split second… If the fabric is flammable, the whole person will be set on fire.

So as Washington mounts lasers on dune buggies, tanks, and trucks, China is also testing and deploying laser weapon systems of its own, as both countries gear up for the next round of hybrid conflcit  that could emerge some time in the mid-2020s or sooner. All this is, of course, happening in the context of the greatest Thucydides Trap in modern history: one in which China's army and military spending is expected to surpass that of the US, some time in the late 2030, on its way to becoming the world's dominant military (and perhaps economic) superpower


Hubbs Troy Ounce Sat, 07/07/2018 - 11:42 Permalink

I wonder if the high tech arms race and the threat of war is making the MIC and bankers more money than actually  fighting  wars. Remember, in a real war, people- who finance it through decline in present and future living standards are killed off. You don't want to kill your slaves, you want to keep them alive-just enough so they make the masters money.

In my opinion, it is therefore  more profitable for the MIC and banks to make people perceive the threat of war is real, rather than actually initiate a war. 

In reply to by Troy Ounce

Boxed Merlot Stan522 Fri, 07/06/2018 - 23:29 Permalink

...Bring it to the border...

Reminds me of the Dune Buggy I took with my friend up the CA coast to Fortuna, north of Eureka back in '75 just after HS graduation. We were fortunate to have a guy in the church let us try to rebuild the crankshaft bearings at his gas station and put us up before eventually taking a Greyhound back to the Bay, I still remember the transients checking the coin slots on the bank of phones every 3 minutes in the middle of the night/morning before catching the bus back to suburbia, USA.

Nearly 50 years later and I still have no desire to see anything past midnight west of the Altamont.


In reply to by Stan522

rtb61 replaceme Fri, 07/06/2018 - 22:24 Permalink

Fantasy versus reality. I predict a whole lot of very shiny targets for those lasers, that is of course not the bad bit and it does have everything to do with blinding people, your own people.

Fire a laser at shiny surfaces and you will get reflections, high powered laser, means instant blindness for anyone unlucky enough to be say, looking at the enemy.

Infantry are well and truly cannon fodder know. Do you know what ionising radiation does to DNA, it damages it beyond repair. Ionising lasers on the battlefield, yeah all the exposed soldiers will likely die of cancer, especially pushing at to gama range frequencies.

Different frequencies of light do different things, why bother with high heat lasers when you can really quickly cook people's brains, only need to push past say 40 degrees C start breaking down brain proteins and you are fucked, microwave lasers every soldier hit in a sweep get brain damage hundreds in a pass, woo hoo, lets play war. Think you are safe behind armour, xray lasers will fix that, xrays and testicles or ovaries do not go well together, win the war with an army that has been sterilised by the enemy, tell me exactly what you won.

People on a laser battlefield are 100% single use disposable, none of you will be coming back intact as you make the rich richer with your own lives.

Lets play orbital laser warfare, I'll just target the general population in orbital sweeps until the entire populations DNA has been damaged and simply wait. Lets play war and see who wins that war.

In reply to by replaceme

Baron Samedi rtb61 Sat, 07/07/2018 - 04:51 Permalink

They're gonna have to do a lot with ablative/reflective coatings while they get up to speed with a phase conjugate shield that   m i g h t   neutralize a lot.

There is the focus/diffusion problem ("rubber mirrors" at high power?).

... meanwhile I'm not gonna be impressed until they have solid-state (phased array style) aiming a la Star Trek.

(And what we  r e a l l y  want is a good Flash Gordon stun/blast pistol that works on a couple of D-cell size power packs for daily carry.)

In reply to by rtb61

William Dorritt rtb61 Sat, 07/07/2018 - 13:45 Permalink

Aren't the cell phones, cell phone towers and smart meters already cooking US Citizens ?

Why spend the money on lasers ?

If we aren't dying fast enough to save Soc Security and provide free everything to illegals,

they can always mandate that the supermarkets spray round-up on the vegetables in the fresh vegetable area.

In reply to by rtb61

Yen Cross Fri, 07/06/2018 - 21:29 Permalink

 lmfao!  > “The beauty of this system is that it’s self-contained,”

  Does it have the auto pilot function?

  I have a couple of old silver fillings, and my mouth is getting hot.

  My wisdom teeth, are keeping the heat contained.