Laser-armed drones are one step closer to becoming a reality.
The Missile Defense Agency recently awarded Boeing Co. a nine-month, $9 million contract as part of its Low Power Laser Demonstrator program, according to a Defense Department contract announcement.
Boeing is the third defense contractor to begin work on the agency’s first phase of the project, which aims to design, integrate and test a low power laser on an unmanned aerial vehicle.
The agency awarded a $9.4 million contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. in October and an $8.9 million contract to General Atomics in November.
For now, the goal is to integrate airborne platforms with precision tracking lasers.
For example, under a previous contract, the agency successfully tested General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper incorporated with Raytheon’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System — an electro-optical/infrared, long-range surveillance, target tracking and range finding, and laser designated sensor package — during a Navy exercise last year.