REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman will help the U.S. Air Force to develop a directed energy laser system that will offer self-protection for the service's next-generation jets, the company announced Wednesday.
The work, under an Air Force Research Laboratory contract, will see Northrop Grumman develop and produce the beam control piece of an airborne laser weapon demonstration array that the laboratory is developing as part of the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator, or SHiELD, program, Northrop said in a statement.
The laser would reside in a pod that could be attached to fighter-sized aircraft, with the system tested on aircraft flying at supersonic speed.
Air Force officials expect to begin testing the system by 2019.
The beam control system being developed by Northrop mitigates atmospheric disturbances that could distort the beam.
It will also acquire and track incoming targets, determine the laser's aim point and then shape and focus the outgoing beam on the objective.
The Air Force will integrate Northrop's contributions with a laser source, power and cooling system.