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F-15 to get laser pod

Discussion in 'The Americas' started by BMD, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. BMD


    Nov 20, 2012
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    Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Company (in cooperation with Boeing Phantom Works) has recently won an ~$19 million contract to develop, manufacture, test, and integrate a laser pod weapon for an F-15 (the article doesn't specify if it's a C or E model Eagle).

    The SHiELD (Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator) program will be for characterizing the effects of transonic and supersonic flight on directed high energy weapons. It will also be the first stepping stone to generating future program requirements for a mass-produced airborne laser weapon system able to be carried by front line fighter and/or attack aircraft.

    Sauce is on the LM intranet, so I can't link to it. Here's the copy - paste:

    Flying cars and laser weapons: the two technologies we were promised in our youth that would herald the arrival of the Future. The jury is still out on flying cars, but lasers have arrived. And when MFC’s Laser Pod Research and Development (LPRD, pronounced ‘leopard’) team is through, airborne direct energy weapons will be a lot closer to reality.

    MFC’s Fire Control Advanced Programs (FCAP) organization recently landed a contract worth over $19 million to research the effects of a high-energy laser in a transonic and supersonic environment. Under the contract, LPRD engineers are partnering with Boeing Phantom Works to develop and integrate a high-energy laser pod on a U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter.

    LPRD is part of an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Advanced Technology Demonstrator program called Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD). SHiELD will inform requirements for future directed energy platforms intended for tactical aircraft survivability.

    “The Fire Control team in Orlando has a lot of experience in system integration and optical packaging on podded systems,” said Bryan Gundrum, manager of FCAP’s Advanced Air Dominance and Directed Energy team and the LPRD program. “This is our opportunity to extend those core competencies, to understand at a deep level the challenges associated with designing a fully functioning high-power laser pod. And defining the requirements for integrating power, thermal, cooling and beam control systems.”

    The LPRD pod will connect and integrate the SHiELD beam control and laser beam generation systems with the aircraft’s sensors, electronics, and power and cooling systems. In addition to providing the power and cooling systems, MFC’s LPRD team will perform system integration, ensuring a high level of overall performance and safety.

    The LPRD team is developing the laser pod this year and integrating the beam control system in 2018. “We’re responsible for initial internal architecture design, so we’re carrying a slightly larger workshare during the initial phase,” Bryan said. “Boeing is tackling the pod-to-aircraft interface and will be responsible for test and aircraft integration later in the program.”

    That will include early F-15 flight tests this year using an instrumented pod to perform aerodynamic studies. These tests will provide environmental data to ensure the hardware the team is developing will survive the rigors of supersonic flight.

    The first demonstration comes in the 2019-20 time frame. “We’ll be delivering our first integrated pod to AFRL in late 2019,” said Bryan. “That one will be equipped with a low-energy laser for putting light on target in our first ground tests.”

    And somewhere in the 2023-25 time frame the SHiELD team will conduct a live-fire test against a missile target.

    While SHiELD and LPRD offer some early operational utility, they are not intended to go into full-rate production. And that’s okay with Bryan. “LPRD is our first step into the directed energy market,” he said. “We are establishing a program of record for producing a high-energy laser weapon system. Ultimately, it is our opportunity to transition into becoming a laser weapon systems integrator.”

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