A system for the launch of hypervelocity flyer plates has been developed and characterized. Laser-driven flyers were launched from the substrate backed aluminum-alumina-aluminum sandwiched films. A laser-induced plasma is used to drive flyers with typical thickness of 5.5 m and diameters of less than 1 mm, to achieve velocities of a few km/s. These flyer plates have many applications, from micrometeorite simulation to laser ignition. The flyer plates considered here have up to three layers: an ablation layer, to form plasma; an insulating layer; and a final, thicker layer that forms the final flyer plates. This technique was developed aiming at improving the energy efficiency of the system. The kinetic energy of flyers launched with the additional layer was found to be enhanced by a factor of near 2 (up to 30). The optical fiber delivery system governs the output spatial profile of the laser spot and power capacity. Moreover, a technique for coupling high-power laser pulses into an optical fiber has been developed. This fiber optic system has been successfully used to launch flyer plates, and the surface finishing quality of the fiber was found to be an important factor. Importantly, measurements of the flyer performance including the mean velocities and planarity were made by an optical time-of-arrival technique using an optical fiber array probe, demonstrating the good planarity of the flyer and the achievable average velocity of 1.7 kms with approaching 1 mm diameter. Finally, the relationship between flyer velocities and incident laser pulses energy was also investigated. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.