The US Navy has awarded an additional task order to Boeing to complete the design of the 100kW free electron laser (FEL) lab demonstrator.

Boeing Strategic Missile and Defense Systems vice-president and general manager Greg Hyslop said the FEL would enable navy ships to defend against new threats with exceptional speed, precision and power.

“It will transform naval warfare in the next decade by providing an ultra-precise, speed-of-light capability and unlimited magazine depth,” he said.

FEL is designed to operate by passing a beam of high-energy electrons through a series of powerful magnetic fields, generating an intense emission of laser light.

Boeing FEL programme manager Ed Pogue said the FEL is capable of tuning the wavelength to maximise transmission of the laser through the marine atmosphere, and can aim for a single small spot on the target.

“The combination of these two effects allows the system to destroy the target in the minimum time,” he said.

Work under the $23m task order will be carried out at the accelerator facility in US, and the design review phase is scheduled to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2011.