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Boeing Gets $90M Funding to Develop Laser Pods for Fighter Jets in 2021

Dec 22, 2016 06:42 AM EST

Star Wars won't be on a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It appears Boeing may actually bring the epic laser battles of the franchise on Earth for real.

Boeing has just been awarded an estimated $90-million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract for the development and delivery of experimental laser pods.

This means the contractor will provide research and development of high energy laser tech through the next five years.

According to Inside Defense, the laser pod referred to the award is likely to be the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHIELD). It can be remembered that in August, Northrop Grumman was selected to develop the laser beam director turret for his high energy laser weapons system designed to protect tactical fighter planes from incoming missiles.

However, it appears lasers can be used offensively as well, akin to space battles we see in the famous films.

According to Next Big Future, Grumman was awarded a $39.3 million contract related to the development of a laser-based self-defense system for the US Air Force (USAF).

Grumman was contracted by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on August 23 for the SHIELD Turret Research in Aero-Effects (STRAFE) program. He was to develop and deliver an advanced beam control system for integration as part of a complete laser weapon system into a tactical pod for USAF fighter aircraft.

According to Defense Update, his work is expected to be finished by August 2021. And while his work may not resemble the epic space battles between ships of the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, the innovation would surely revolutionize the future of aerial warfare.

It appears it is intended that the SHIELD pod would enable the USAF's fourth-generation fighter fleet. This includes the Boeing F-15 Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon to survive in contested airspace. The fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II may probably not carry the pod, as it may negate their stealth characteristics. 

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