BETHESDA, MARYLAND — The U.S. is finally taking a page from Star Wars and is now looking to equip its fighter planes with high-energy lasers.
CNBC reports that Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $26.3 million contract to design, develop, and build a high-energy laser weapon for the U.S. Air Force’s SHiELD program.
The company delivered a 60-kilowatt laser for U.S. Army ground vehicles early this year, and will produce a smaller system to test on tactical aircraft by 2021.
Airborne laser weapons can defend against threats from enemy missiles, boosting the self-defense capabilities of military jets.
The Lockheed Martin laser is one of three subsystems that make up the SHiELD program. A beam control system is being developed by Northrop Grumman, while a pod to power and cool the laser is being designed by Boeing.