Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal
When laser-equipped fighter jets hit the skies in the 2020s, they’ll include a lot of “Made in New Mexico” technology.
The Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base is overseeing the government’s new fighter jet demonstration project known as SHiELD, or Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator. The program aims to place small-scale laser pod defense systems on older military aircraft, with the first system demonstration scheduled for 2021.
To build it, the Air Force lab awarded an initial $39 million contract in late August to Northrop Grumman to create a new laser beam control system. Two more contracts will follow in the coming months, one for a laser pod that contains the system’s power, thermal management, battery and cooling technology, and another to develop the laser itself, said SHiELD program manager Richard Bagnell.