Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army is contracting Radiance Technologies for high energy laser lethality research, assessment and support in the amount of $28.2 million.
Work on the contract, announced Thursday by the Department of Defense, will be performed in Huntsville, Ala., and is expected to be completed by November 2023.
It falls under a small business contract under acquisition rules, though Radiance has over 500 employees in nine states with annual revenues of over $100 million.
The Department of Defense has been experimenting with laser technology for decades, with several low-power models having already been tested. Lasers in the range of 100 megawatts, with increased power over current models, would be capable of swiftly destroying threats like drones, artillery fire and missiles.
Lasers could provide a relatively low cost option for intercept missions since it would rely on electricity instead of expensive ammunition. The Army has been trying to develop a practical battlefield laser system since the 1970's.
Chemical lasers, which use chemical reactions for power, have been found to be too bulky and inefficient. Advances in solid-state electrical lasers have, however, allowed the systems to be mounted on standard vehicles, and higher powered versions are expected to come online within the next few years.