The Army took a major step toward fielding its first laser weapon system, awarding a $203 million contract to Northrop Grumman and Raytheon to produce prototypes and systems ready for the field. The plan calls for a 50-kilowatt prototype, to be delivered and installed on Stryker combat vehicles by 2022. The system would offer protection from aerial and mortar attacks to brigade combat teams.
Once the prototype is evaluated, the Army wants to buy three more Strykers equipped with them — potentially increasing the price tag by $490 million for the four prototypes.
The Army also is seeking bids on the project from other contractors.
Additional plans call for adapting a more effective High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator, with a 100-kilowatt laser system. It would be installed on medium tactical vehicles now under development. In time, higher power — between 250 and 300 kilowatts — would be available. Much of the work is taking place at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.