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Lockheed delivers high energy laser to US Air Force for AC-130J testing

Illustration: US Air Force file photo

Lockheed Martin announced on October 7 it delivered the first Airborne High Energy Laser (AHEL) system to the US Air Force for testing on an AC-130J aircraft.

The company said it completed factory acceptance testing for the AHEL ahead of its preparation for US military ground and flight testing.

“Completion of this milestone is a tremendous accomplishment for our customer,” said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions. “These mission success milestones are a testament of our partnership with the US Air Force in rapidly achieving important advances in laser weapon system development.”

Lockheed Martin delivered the AHEL subsystem for integration with other systems in preparation for ground testing and, ultimately, flight testing aboard the AC-130J aircraft.

In January 2019, Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract for integration, test and demonstration on the AC-130J aircraft and is on schedule to continue testing this capability.

The US Special Operations Command, the operator of the AC-130J for which the laser was developed, began critical design review of the AHEL system in August 2020, while flight demonstrations on an actual aircraft in late fiscal year 2022.

In July 2021, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division awarded Lockheed Martin a $12 million cost-plus-fixed fee, indefinite-delivery, five-year contract award for technical services, integration, test, and demonstration for the AHEL system.

In addition to laser systems, the company is also working on similar program with the navy, and has already delivered the HELIOS laser for installation aboard an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. It has also been tasked with developing a laser mission module for the littoral combat ships.