The National Ignition Facility, a center for the study of high energy density plasma physics and fusion energy ignition, is currently under construction at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The heart of the NIF is a frequency tripled, flashlamp-pumped Nd:glass laser system comprised of 192 independent laser beams. The laser system is capable of gen-erating output energies of 1.8MJ at 351nm and at peak powers of 500 TW in a flexible temporal pulse format. A descrip-tion of the NIF laser system and its major components is presented. We also discuss the manufacture of nearly 7500 pre-cision large optics required by the NIF including data on the manufactured optical quality vs. specification. In addition, we present results from an on-going program to improve the operational lifetime of optics exposed to high fluence in the 351-nm section of the laser.© (2003) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.