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US Air Force awards Raytheon contract for laser weapon system prototypes

05 August 2019
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Artist’s illustration of the HELWS that Raytheon is developing under contract with the USAF. Source: Raytheon

The US Air Force (USAF) on 2 August awarded Raytheon a USD24 million contract for two prototype High Energy Laser Weapon Systems (HELWS).

These HELWS prototypes will be ground-based systems, according to Raytheon. Company spokesperson BJ Boling said on 5 August that Raytheon integrated its high-energy laser on a Polaris MRZR, a type of all-terrain vehicle. The system is stand-alone, he said, with a footprint of approximately 9 sq m.

This award provides for field assessment outside the continental United States for experimentation purposes. It includes, but is not limited to, 12 months of in-field operation by USAF personnel against unmanned aircraft system (UAS) threats.

Work is expected to be completed by 1 November 2020. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition.

Raytheon’s HELWS is in the 10 kW power class. Boling said prototypes will deliver four hours of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability and 20–30 laser shots based on a single charge from a standard 220V outlet.

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