Lockheed Martin awarded MDA contract for laser-armed UAV

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded the Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) Phase 1 contract to Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Department of Defense announced.

Under this new contract, Lockheed Martin 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 (UAV).

The work will be performed in Sunnyvale, California; Palo Alto, California; Louisville, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The period of performance is nine-months from Oct. 6, 2017 with an estimated completion date of July 5, 2018.

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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