UK-based global major propulsion and power systems and technology group Rolls-Royce reported on Tuesday that a power and thermal management system that it had developed to provide energy for laser weapons had performed successfully during multiple and extended field tests. This system, designated ‘ColdFire’, powered a 100 kW-class laser weapon system developed by US-based global major aerospace and defence group Lockheed Martin, under the US Department of Defense’s Layered Laser Defense programme. During these recent tests, the laser weapon successfully shot down a number of flying targets.
Coldfire delivered not only the amount of energy required to power the weapon, but provided that power on the required sustained basis. Providing sustained power for laser weapons is known as ‘deep magazine’ capability.
“The Rolls-Royce ColdFire system successfully demonstrated extended firing capability during the field tests, proving the technology is ready to progress to customer applications,” highlighted Rolls-Royce Defence senior VP Craig McVay. “We built the most sophisticated power and thermal management system in the world, so we are ready for any challenge. Our US Department of Defense customers continue to express interest in Rolls-Royce directed energy power and cooling technology, and we look forward to briefing them on the outstanding results from the field tests.”
The ColdFire system included batteries and a Rolls-Royce M250 gas turbine, which is fuel-efficient and provided the consistent and sustained power needed to operate the laser weapon. The system successfully demonstrated two firing modes: battery-powered and near-continuous. “Our industry team worked together in [a] great partnership to bring forward critical knowledge to build this compact laser weapon system with a near-limitless magazine,” reported Lockheed Martin Directed Energy Systems director Paul Shattuck.
ColdFire was developed by Rolls-Royce, over a period of ten years, at its advanced technology ‘LibertyWorks’ unit, in Indianapolis in the US State of Indiana. The company invested $50-million of its own money in developing the system. ColdFire was suitable for integration with sea, land or air systems and its power and thermal management capabilities could be optimised to meet specific client requirements.
“Directed energy systems offer low cost per shot and reduced logistical burdens, while offering compelling capabilities against today’s stressing threats including counter-hypersonic [missiles], and are versatile and scalable,” pointed out Rolls-Royce. “Regardless of power sources or platform, thermal management integration with the laser is critical to system effectiveness.”