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Northrop Grumman Complete Milestone For The Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser Phase 3 Program

The first laser chain is a key component of the Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser system, which is designed to accelerate solid-state laser technology for military uses, including force protection and precision strike missions for air-, sea-, and ground-based platforms.
by Staff Writers
Redondo Beach CA (SPX) Mar 12, 2008
Northrop Grumman has demonstrated exemplary performance capability of a laser chain, the first major building block of a solid state demonstrator laser designed to reach a power level of 100kW. The Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) Phase 3 program exceeded all target requirements of its second major demonstration milestone, including excellent beam quality.

The JHPSSL system is designed to accelerate solid-state laser technology for military uses, including force protection and precision strike missions for air-, sea-, and ground-based platforms.

"Northrop Grumman's JHPSSL will demonstrate the laser technology for the next generation of protection for the nation's warfighters on the ground, in the air, and at sea," said Dan Wildt, vice president of Directed Energy Systems at Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "With the successful demonstration of a complete laser chain -- the building block of the fully integrated solid state laser -- the hardest part is over."

The first laser chain (LC1) is a key component to the JHPSSL scaleable architecture, which is designed to combine eight laser chains of four gain modules each. Each laser chain is a compact 15kW solid state laser and the entire system configuration has the potential to achieve greater than 100kW, the ultimate goal of the Phase 3 JHPSSL program. The company's scaleable approach achieves higher power as more chains are added.

The laser chain milestone was demonstrated on Dec. 20, 2007, two days ahead of schedule. Power reached 15.3kW, exceeding the target requirement of 12.7kW; vertical beam quality was measured at 1.58x diffraction limit, surpassing the 2.0 target; turn-on time was 0.8 seconds, below the 1.0 second target; LC1's run time was more than 300 seconds, far beyond the target of 200 seconds; and the Electo-Optical Efficiency was 19.5 percent.

"Our team has developed a compact modular laser with excellent beam quality, which can be used alone or coherently combined with additional laser chains to reach 100kW and beyond," commented Jay Marmo, Northrop Grumman's program manager for JHPSSL. "LC1 represents the first JHPSSL brassboard laser chain produced to the phase 3 design, proving both the production methods as well as the JHPSSL laser chain design."

Wildt concluded, "Northrop Grumman's global leadership in directed energy technologies continues with this outstanding achievement."

JHPSSL at a Glance:

Phase 1 - 2002 - Northrop Grumman addresses risk reduction of the technologies necessary to obtain high power and beam quality simultaneously and is awarded Phase 2.

Phase 2 - 2005 - Northrop Grumman scaled Phase 1 technologies to greater than 25kW using two chains, showing further scalability to 100 kW and beyond. The company is awarded Phase 3.

Phase 3 - Feb 2007 - First demonstration milestone: JHPSSL team enters integration and test phase after exceeding all demonstration requirements for the first gain module; it produced a power level of more than 3.9 kW, operated for 500 seconds at 20.6 percent efficiency. There are four gain modules per each laser chain.

Dec. 2007 - Second demonstration milestone: First laser chain successfully demonstration, exceeding all target requirements.

In 2008, the JHPSSL team will assemble and test Laser Chain 2 (LC2) and integrate it with LC1. The system alignment and phase control of the two chains will then be demonstrated as part of the next major milestone, IFM3. "Completion of the remaining six laser chains and their integration into the final system configuration is on track for a full power system demonstration of 100kW by the end of 2008," added Marmo.

The JHPSSL program is funded by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala; Office of the Secretary of Defense - Joint Technology Office, Albuquerque; Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; and the Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Va.

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