For the first time, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defence Command used a vehicle mounted high-energy laser to successfully engage more than 90 enemy mortar rounds and flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) contracted by Boeing, was tested at White Sands Missile Range and
confirms the capability of a mobile laser weapon system to counter rockets, artillery, mortars, UAVs, and reconnaissance sensors mounted on UAVs.
The beam control system (BCS) is a dome-shaped turret that extends above the roof of a 500-horsepower Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT). The beam director rotates 360-degrees and uses mirrors to point and focus the beam on a target.
The laser beam moves at approximately 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light, and hits targets with unprecedented precision.
“These tests were the first in which HEL MD repeatedly destroyed consecutive rounds of mortars and aerial threats with speed-of-light precision and a high degree of accuracy,” Mike Rinn, vice president, Boeing Directed Energy Systems.
The recent testing utilized a 10 kW class laser which will be upgraded to an 100 kW class laser in subsequent demonstrations.
This joint project is entering its seventh year with a 2013 fiscal year budget of a staggering $US12.4 million.
“The system is being validated by the United States Army and they will determine when its ready for the battlefield,” wrote Dexter Henson of Boeing’s Strategic Missile & Defence Systems.
Earlier this year, the Navy announced plans to deploy a laser weapon system on board USS Ponce by 2014.
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