General Atomics wins Low Power Laser Demonstrator Phase 1 contract

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) is being awarded a contract for the Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) Phase 1 effort.

The competitive cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is valued at around $9 million and is awarded by Missile Defense Agency (MDA) located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Under this new contract, the contractor will perform the next step for the LPLD effort that addresses laser power and aperture size by integrating and testing a low power laser on an unmanned aerial vehicle.

The work will be performed in San Diego, California; and Poway, California, with an estimated completion date of July 31, 2018. The period of performance is nine months from Nov. 1, 2017, through July 31, 2018.

Lockheed Martin was also recently awarded a contract for the LPLD Phase 1 effort.

Laser-armed UAV:

MDA is seeking a laser-armed UAV to intercept and shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) by the middle of the next dacade.

According to the specifications released, the proposed aircraft should be able to maintain continuous positive ground control and are expected to operate from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii and Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The UAV should have a flight altitude of at least 63,000 feet, the endurance to stay on station for at least 36 hours after a transit of 1,900 miles, and a cruising speed of up to Mach .46 while patrolling its station.

It needs to be able to carry a payload between 5,000 and 12,500 pounds. It needs sufficient power generation to operate a 140-kilowatt laser, with the possibility of up to 280 kw or more. It needs to be able to operate the laser for at least 30 minutes without affecting flight performance and be capable of carrying a 1- to 2-meter optical system for the laser.

The MDA is responsible for the defense of U.S. territory and its allies from ballistic missile threats. It coordinates a network of land-based and ship-based missile interceptors along with radars and satellites to detect and destroy enemy ballistic missiles.

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