L3 Micreo is researching a scalable high-energy laser array (HELA) to counter improvised threats, thanks to $1 million in funding from the Next Generation Technologies Fund’s Counter Improvised Threats Challenge.
The funding is part of the $19 million announced by Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne in December 2017.
Over 200 submissions were received and 40 proposals were shortlisted before the final winners were selected. Thirteen proposals from universities, industry and small businesses across the nation will be developed over the next four years into a single prototype threat detection and defeat system led by Defence.
Sarah Earey, L3 Micreo’s general manager, said, "This is an innovative proposal for a complex problem. The funding provides us the opportunity to develop next-generation capabilities to address the ever-growing incidence of improvised threats to Defence personnel and the public."
L3 Micreo said the HELA technology that will result from funding L3 Micreo’s research is one of very few technologies capable of permanently neutralising an improvised threat at standoff distances. As a highly versatile system, it will be effective not only against IEDs, but also against manned and unmanned platforms, going beyond the capabilities of existing counter-IED jamming technology.
The duration of the research project is approximately 1.5 years and will focus on the design and demonstration of a concept system with a view to progressing the design to high-technology readiness levels.
Ashley Robinson, L3 Micreo’s chief technology officer, said the company is looking forward to the opportunity to expand on the research and technology around high-energy lasers.
"This is a very exciting project for us. There has been a lot of research into the effectiveness of high-energy lasers, which generate a single, coherent, high-energy beam fed into a large beam expander and steered to hit the target to permanently neutralise improvised threats. But we’re going beyond that, to research and develop technology using arrays of lower-powered lasers."