With U.S. military bases in the Middle-East and Afghanistan constantly under attack from mortars, rockets, artillery shells, and other airborne ammunition, advanced defense mechanisms were needed that could thwart and destroy incoming threats. This initiated a joint effort between the army and Boeing to develop the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD).
It is one of the latest innovations that enable the use of laser technology in defense weaponry. The laser system can be mounted atop trucks and is capable of shooting down mortars and unmanned drones.
Tests were successfully conducted at a missile range in New Mexico. The system uses radar signals to identify targets and then focuses the laser beam, causing the target to detonate in mid-air. In recent trials, a 10-kilowatt beam with a diameter about the size of a quarter has been successfully used, indicating that it could play an important role in defense strategy in the coming years.
The military has ambitious plans to enhance the strength of the laser to 100 kilowatts. Improvements to the system will also enable it to track missiles that are much faster than drones and mortars and protect the base from multiple incoming rounds.
The Army touts the system’s cost-effectiveness. Costs are saved on missile deployment and other arsenal for the counter-attack. The cost of transport is also reduced, says the Army, as extra vehicles will not be needed to deliver ammunition once the laser has been stationed at the unit. The military is in process of developing and testing more advanced systems.
Liberte Media writers contributed to this report. Liberte Media is an online agency that focuses on increasing user engagement through search engine optimization, pay-per-clicks, social media marketing, and content management.