The US Marine Corps has taken strides to bolster the lethality of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) fleet by integrating advanced laser weapon technology.
The service recently awarded a contract to BlueHalo, an American tech firm, for the development and implementation of a high-energy laser weapon system named LOCUST.
This innovative system aims to provide warfighters with an advanced mobile air defense capability specifically designed to counter the growing threat posed by drones.
BlueHalo’s LOCUST Laser Weapon System
The LOCUST laser weapon system is positioned as a key component in the Marine Corps‘ strategy to augment existing kinetic and electronic warfare systems for more effective ground-based air defense.
BlueHalo’s solution is tailored to address the evolving challenges posed by unmanned aerial systems, offering superior target acquisition, tracking, and defeat capabilities.
“The @USNavy has turned to BlueHalo to integrate LOCUST’s Directed Energy capabilities onto a JLTV for threat protection while on the move."
— BlueHalo (@BlueHalo_LLC) November 9, 2023
The adaptability of the LOCUST system across both fixed-site and mobile applications makes it a versatile addition to the military’s arsenal.
Trip Ferguson, an official from BlueHalo, expressed confidence in the LOCUST system’s capabilities, stating:
“With its superior target acquisition, track, and defeat capabilities and its broad adaptability across both fixed-site and mobile applications, the LOCUST laser system is the perfect solution for rapid integration into systems like the JLTV to address our customers’ most complex challenges.”
One of the critical aspects of this initiative is the collaboration between BlueHalo and the systems integration team at the Naval Surface Warfare Center.
This partnership is essential to ensuring seamless compatibility and conducting live-fire tests, ensuring the system’s effectiveness in real-world scenarios.
Advanced Features of LOCUST
The LOCUST laser weapon leverages precision optical and laser hardware, advanced software, and artificial intelligence to create an improved directed-energy kill chain.
Its “hard kill” high-energy laser is capable of identifying, tracking, and engaging a wide variety of targets.
The integration of artificial intelligence enhances the system’s ability to adapt to dynamic and diverse threats, making it a formidable tool in the military’s defensive arsenal.
James Batt, Chief Growth Officer at BlueHalo, highlighted the advanced features of the LOCUST system, mentioning that it has already been successfully deployed for fixed-site ground-based protection.
Notably, the system has been palletized to support mobile defenses, making it a versatile solution that aligns with the military’s evolving needs.
Threat Protection on the Move: Integration with JLTVs
The decision to integrate the LOCUST laser weapon onto the JLTVs underscores the military’s commitment to providing enhanced threat protection while on the move.
In modern warfare scenarios, mobility and adaptability are paramount, and the JLTVs equipped with advanced laser technology align with these strategic imperatives.
This move represents a paradigm shift in ground-based air defense, where traditional systems are being augmented with cutting-edge technologies to address the complex and dynamic nature of contemporary threats.
Modular Architecture for Future Scalability
The LOCUST system’s modular, open-system architecture is a testament to its adaptability and future scalability.
BlueHalo emphasizes that the system is built upon a high technology readiness level, incorporating commercial off-the-shelf products and sensors.
This approach not only streamlines the integration process but also ensures that the system can evolve to meet emerging threats without significant overhauls.
"We deployed the first #Locust [High Energy Laser Weapon System] we ever made. We've deployed a few others that are in various parts of the world in positions that may allow them to defend sites that are important to us & our allies and partners " ~ Jimmy Jenkins, BlueHalo #HEL https://t.co/2zOvzypm6x pic.twitter.com/CcmPycVczn
— AirPower 2.0 (MIL_STD) (@AirPowerNEW1) October 22, 2023
As military strategies continue to evolve in response to emerging threats, the integration of laser weapon systems like LOCUST reflects a broader trend toward incorporating advanced technologies in defense mechanisms.
The rise of drone technology has necessitated reevaluating traditional defense strategies, and the LOCUST laser system is a direct response to the need for robust and agile air defense capabilities.
The Rise of Directed-Energy Weapons
The initiative also aligns with the broader trend of military forces worldwide investing in directed-energy weapons (DEWs) using laser systems at its core. These cutting-edge technologies offer crucial advantages in the evolving landscape of modern warfare.
Swift Precision. Directed-energy weapons, particularly lasers, provide unparalleled speed-of-light targeting. This rapid engagement capability ensures swift responses to emerging threats on dynamic and fast-paced battlefields.
Efficient Logistics. DEWs, like the LOCUST laser system, significantly reduce logistical burdens by relying on energy sources instead of traditional ammunition. This streamlining enhances sustainability and efficiency in military operations.
Versatility in Target Engagement. Laser systems excel in engaging multiple targets rapidly, making them effective against adversaries using swarming tactics or unmanned aerial systems. The LOCUST laser’s adaptability showcases the potential of DEWs in addressing diverse modern battlefield challenges.
Adapting to Asymmetrical Warfare. In the face of asymmetrical warfare and unconventional threats, directed-energy weapons offer a versatile and adaptive solution. Their precision, rapid response times, and ability to counter unconventional threats align with the unpredictable nature of contemporary conflicts.
As nations strive for strategic superiority in an increasingly complex security landscape, the rise of directed-energy weapons signifies a strategic shift towards more efficient, sustainable, and versatile military capabilities. This trend reflects an ongoing evolution in defense technologies, providing innovative solutions for the multifaceted challenges of 21st-century warfare.
A New Era in Ground-Based Air Defense
The US Marine Corps’ decision to integrate the LOCUST laser weapon system onto its JLTVs represents a significant leap forward in ground-based air defense capabilities.
The collaboration between the military and technology firms like BlueHalo exemplifies a commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements to address emerging threats effectively.
The deployment of the LOCUST system not only enhances threat protection on the move but also sets a precedent for integrating cutting-edge technologies in military operations, marking a new era in the evolution of ground-based air defense systems.