As part of the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program for US Air Force fighters, it is planned to create a laser system capable of destroying missiles in the air. The US Air Force Research Laboratory has a development contract with Northrop Grumman. The cost of works is estimated at $ 39,3 million, the deadline for the order - until September 2021. The Lockheed Martin contract is priced at $ 26,3 million.
Representatives of Lockheed Martin say that the corporation has already gained enough experience with laser systems to create laser protection for combat aircraft. The installation will consist of three key elements: the guidance, cooling and power systems, as well as a solid-state laser.
Modern technologies allow fighters to evade missiles launched against them using electronic warfare systems or heat traps. The command of the US Air Force considers these methods of “self-defense” insufficient and plans to equip combat aircraft with systems that will not “deceive” but destroy missiles at a safe distance, hitting them with a laser beam.
It is planned to install SHiELD on fourth-generation fighter jets, in particular, on McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and Lockheed Martin 16 Fighting Falcon. At the same time, the fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II aircraft are not planning to equip them with additional protection systems, as the outboard modules increase their radar visibility, reports "Warspot"