The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a contract to develop the lightweight demonstrator laser weapon system for the agency’s High Energy Liquid Laser Defense System program. “GA-ASI pioneered a new concept for electrically pumped, high-energy lasers, and under DARPA sponsorship, this technology has developed into a promising new weapon,” said Michael Perry, who oversees GA-ASI’s reconnaissance systems, in the company’s release. Under the contract, which covers phase four of HELLADS development, GA-ASI will produce the 150-kilowatt demonstrator—weighing less than 2,000 pounds—and have it available for ground testing “against a variety of military targets” at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., in 2013. HELLADS is envisioned as a laser defensive system light enough for use on tactical aircraft, including remotely piloted aircraft. There are plans for its eventual integration with a B-1B bomber for aerial testing.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."