The US Navy Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded a contract to Raytheon to build a vehicle-based laser device that can defeat low-flying threats, including rival drones.
The decision brings the laser weapon system a step closer to reality.
As part of the ground-based air defence (GBAD) directed energy on-the-move future naval capabilities programme, Raytheon needs to demonstrate a Humvee-mounted short-range laser weapon system that can offer a minimum power output of 25kW.
Raytheon Space Systems vice-president Bill Hart said: "Raytheon’s laser solution generates high power output in a small, lightweight rugged package ideally suited for mobile platforms."
The new field-testing vehicle-based laser weapons, to be built under an $11m contract, will be packaged to comply with the US Marine Corps’ size, weight and power requirements.
Integrating planar waveguide (PWG) technology, which is claimed to be a key part of its exclusive approach to high-energy lasers, the new laser systems can produce adequate power to efficiently engage small aircraft.
Hart added: "Our PWG laser architecture is scalable. We can achieve increasingly higher power levels with the same compact design we’re using for GBAD.
"Raytheon is paving the way for fielded directed-energy weapon systems in the very near future with the demonstration of a Marine Humvee-based high-energy laser."