High-power solid-state laser concepts submitted by Northrop Grumman and Textron have beaten two rivals to enter the third phase of a US Army programme seeking to demonstrate a 100kW laser beam before 2010.

The Textron bid beat high-energy laser technologies from Raytheon and a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory/Boeing team.

The army has awarded Northrop $56 million to launch a 32-month demonstration effort aimed at producing the 100kW beam. Textron’s receipt of $10.4 million will fund the demonstration of a particular technology, such as an innovative cooling system, rather than of a full-up beam.

Northrop’s approach relies on merging eight individual 12.5kW beams into a single energy stream totalling 100kW. The company says it has demonstrated a 27kW beam for 320s, making it the only known contender to meet phase two requirements to generate a 25kW laser for at least 1min.

The army originally planned to demonstrate a 100kW beam by 2007, but its schedule appears to have stretched by two years under the new contracts.

Source: Flight International