Many emerging industry and military applications require high power, high brightness laser systems with greatly reduced size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP) so that they can be integrated into a compact and mobile platform. Current High Energy Laser (HEL) weapon systems are mainly based on spectrally beam combined fiber laser technologies, which enable high output power levels but suffer from the characteristically low electrical-to-optical efficiency (around 40%), and large footprint. Semiconductor diode lasers, which are capable of converting electrical current directly into laser light, have many attractive features including a high power conversion efficiency (PCE), high compactness, high reliability, broad wavelength range and low cost. Advances in direct diode laser systems promise to meet the demand of the next generation of highly efficient HEL weapons. Forward Photonics is currently working on Army SBIR programs with the goal of demonstrating a 50 kW direct diode laser. This laser is targeted to achieve a beam quality of M2 = 2 which would quite easily make it the highest brightness direct diode laser ever made (33.4 TW/sr·cm2). For this program Forward Photonics will partner with the Optoelectronics Group at Clemson University under the direction of Prof. Lin Zhu to improve diode laser sources.