Northrop Grumman develops Skyguard laser system

July 15, 2006
REDONDO BEACH, CA-Northrop Grumman has developed the Skyguard laser-based air defense system for U.

REDONDO BEACH, CA-Northrop Grumman has developed the Skyguard laser-based air defense system for U.S. government agencies and allies that require near-term defense against short-range ballistic missiles, short- and long-range rockets, artillery shells, mortars, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles.

Skyguard is derived from the successful Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) test bed and its predecessors developed by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Army and the Israel Ministry of Defence. It uses the same laser technology as the THEL-a deuterium fluoride laser-but with higher power and a larger beam, according to the company.

“We believe that no other weapon of any kind, or any system being developed today, can offer the kind of protection we’ve proven Skyguard can provide,” said Alexis Livanos, president, Northrop Grumman Space Technology. “Skyguard offers the earliest possible implementation of an operational laser weapon system for defense against a wide range of threats.”

Like earlier systems developed by Northrop Grumman, Skyguard is a multi-mission, soldier-operated, compact, and transportable laser weapon system designed for field deployment and operations. According to the company, a single Skyguard system can defend deployed forces, a large military installation, and/or a large civilian population or industrial area and is capable of generating a protective shield of about 10 km in diameter.

“The THEL Testbed has demonstrated unequivocally that lasers can engage and destroy rocket, artillery and mortar threats in flight,” said Mike McVey, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s Directed Energy Systems business area. “This test bed has been remarkably successful. To date, it has shot down dozens of live threats, including long- and short-range rockets, mortars and artillery projectiles, in very realistic attack scenarios, and under simulated operational conditions such as surprise attacks and mixed threats.”

In continuous use at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range since it was developed between 1996 and 2000, the THEL Testbed has proven that laser weapons could be applied on the battlefield to protect troops on the ground. Like the THEL Testbed, Skyguard is a modular and flexible system that will support future spiral developments and can accommodate improved laser and beam control technologies as they become available.

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