CyberWarfare / ExoWarfare

High-Altitude UAV Laser Weapons To Destroy Enemy Ballistic Missiles At The Launch Pad: Advance in Revolutionary LPLD Project

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A project that will lead to the use of UAV laser weapons to destroy enemy ballistic missiles is advancing to the next stage. Power electronics experts at three U.S. defense companies are moving forward with a project to develop enabling technologies for laser weapons on future unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to destroy enemy ballistic missiles in boost phase.

The Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) project seeks to develop enabling technologies in preparation for building a future high-energy laser weapon for a high-altitude UAV.

The project should help military and defense industry experts understand how to use high-altitude UAVs to destroy missiles in boost phase with lasers, and ways to aim the laser, keep it steady on target, and focus the laser sufficiently to destroy the missile at it leaves the launch pad.

In late 2017, three companies – General Atomics, Boeing and Lockheed Martin – won LPLD phase-one contracts to build low-power laser prototypes to help establish beam stability at long range and the ability to dwell on one spot of a ballistic missile-sized target.

In phase one, the companies addressed laser power and aperture size by integrating and testing a low-power laser on a UAV. Now the three move to the next step of the project, aimed at completing their tailored concept design reviews for the post-preliminary design review risk reduction effort.

During the second phase, the companies will build, integrate, and test a functional low-power laser for beam control and stability. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) officials anticipate a low-power flight test by 2020 and beam stability testing by 2021.

Lessons learned from the LPLD project are expected to help government and industry experts develop solid-state lasers strong enough to destroy enemy ballistic missiles in boost phase from UAVs operating at high altitudes, according to





Also today in Missile Defense:

Successful US-Japan Interception Test Using Aegis System


This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

A successful interception test was conducted by the Japanese Aegis destroyer Atago. The system detected and shot down a short-range ballistic missile in space in a joint test with the U.S. Navy, using the SM-3 Block B1 missile.

The event, announced in a release from the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), was conducted to demonstrate a successful engagement of a target missile from the Japanese guided-missile destroyer using the sea-based midcourse engagement capability provided by Aegis.

The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD or ABMD) is a US MDA program developed to provide missile defense against short to intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

The SM-3 B1 is in wide use throughout the US Fleet and is fielded at the Navy’s AEGIS Ashore facility in Romania.

The test, which took place at Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands in Hawaii, was designed to test the installation of the capability in Atago’s combat system.

“This successful test is a major milestone verifying the capabilities of an upgraded Aegis BMD configuration for Japan’s destroyers,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. “This success provides confidence in the future capability for Japan to defeat the developing threats in the region.”

According to, the Atago destroyer is similar in capabilities and appearance to a U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

The Japanese currently have been fielding the SM-3 A1 and is working to co-develop the SM-3 Block A2 with the United States.

The advanced model B2 developed with the US is still stuck at the development stage after two failed interception tests.

AEGIS missile defense has had a stellar record overall, with 38 of 47 tests being deemed successful according to MDA numbers when including Tuesday’s test. Two recent Block A2 tests were failures, the more recent one due to a failure in the boost-phase rocket motor and the one prior due to a sailor error that caused the missile to self-destruct.

The U.S. Navy has been growing restless with the BMD patrol mission, arguing that much of it should be moved to AEGIS Ashore sites, freeing up destroyers and cruisers to do other missions and use the BMD capabilities only in emergencies.

The mission, however, has been the driving force behind major technological leaps that have kept the surface navy relevant.