Raytheon, an RTX business, has received a $10 million contract from DARPA to design and develop a wireless airborne relay system to deliver energy into contested environments.

The Persistent Optical Wireless Energy Relay programme, known as POWER, aims to revolutionise energy distribution by leveraging power beaming for near-instantaneous energy transport in a resilient, multi-path network.

Under the two-year contract, Raytheon will create an airborne relay design to enable “webs” capable of harvesting, transmitting and redirecting optical beams. These “webs” will transmit energy from ground sources to high altitude for the precision, long-range operation of unmanned systems, sensors and effectors. Harvesting energy will ultimately reduce the military’s dependence on fuel as well as its delivery and storage.

“Energy is essential in the modern battlespace, and it is critical to achieving military objectives,” said Colin Whelan, president of advanced technology at Raytheon. “When operating in contested environments, energy may not always be available or abundant, making the need to generate, store and re-distribute it vital. This technology seeks to enable our military to generate power where it is safe and efficient to do so and easily distribute it to other platforms.”

The POWER programme is part of DARPA’s Energy Web Dominance portfolio, which aims to establish more dynamic energy transport across air, space, maritime, land and undersea domains. By establishing energy web dominance, military commanders will be able to reroute energy in a matter of seconds or minutes, enabling them to pivot capability near instantaneously without reconfiguring supply lines.

Work on this programme is being performed in El Segundo, California.
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