The US Navy has awarded a $150m contract to Raytheon for developing the preliminary design of a 100kW experimental free electron laser as part of the three-phase ONR innovative naval prototype programme.

Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems vice president of engineering Michael Del Checcolo said that the free electron lasers use superconducting electron accelerators to produce high-power laser beams.

“In the future, such high power lasers could be used to instantaneously engage targets at long ranges, enhancing the US Navy’s ability to combat enemies and threats at sea,” said Checcolo.

The company is executing its open-air business model with a team of experts from the Department of Energy laboratories for developing this technology.