July 6 (UPI) -- Raytheon has a received a $10 million contract to develop the U.S. Army's High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstration program.
The program is part of the Army's Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 initiative designed to counter incoming aerial threats such as drones, cruise missiles, artillery rounds and rockets.
The system will mount a 100 kilowatt laser, making it significantly more powerful than the 5 and 10 KW lasers the Army has previously tested. The increased power would make it capable of engaging more diverse targets and at significantly longer ranges.
The laser will be mounted on the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, a series of armored tactical trucks that range up to 10 tons in payload capacity.
"The beauty of this system is that it's self-contained," Roy Azevedo, vice president of Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems at Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business unit, said in a press release.
"Multi-spectral targeting sensors, fiber-combined lasers, power and thermal subsystems are incorporated in a single package," Azevedo said. "
A System, Development and Demonstration contract worth $130 million is expected by early 2019, according to Raytheon.
The Department of Defense has been investing in laser technology for decades. Lasers are seen as the most ideal option for targeting advanced missiles and other emerging threats. It could prove to be a low-cost alternative to more expensive munitions, according to the Department of Defense.