If It Flies It Dies

ABC News – The Army has successfully tested a futuristic laser weapon capable of shooting football-sized mortar rounds and unmanned drones out of the sky. The truck-mounted weapon, known as the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) is still about a decade away from becoming an operational part of the Army’s arsenal, but gives a hint at what a weapon of the future could look like.

The Army tested its HEL MD laser at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico for nearly six weeks starting in mid-November. The device was equipped with a 10-kilowatt solid state laser and a radar system mounted atop a heavy truck.

During the tests a “quarter-sized” invisible laser beam successfully targeted and destroyed more than 90 incoming mortar rounds and six to seven unmanned drones.

Terry Bauer, the project manager for the laser program, said the test results were “above and beyond” what they had expected going into the testing. ”We had no thoughts that this 10-kilowatt would be as successful n doing that as it has been. ”

Mortars are common battlefield weapons that are hard to protect against because they can be fired from short distances. The mortars used in the test were standard 60 millimeter rounds – the length of a football — fired from a distance of less than two kilometers in salvos of two to three mortar rounds each.

The laser’s success rate against incoming mortar shells indicates that battlefield protection from the small explosive rounds could be possible in a few years.

Army video of the laser tests shows the laser targeting the mortar so that it burns up in mid-air and does not explode when it completes its trajectory. ”We turn it into a rock, basically,” said Bauer.

Large test drones flying 5 kilometers from the laser system were made to crash into the New Mexico desert by aiming the laser at the tail of the unmanned aircraft. An infrared camera on the video captured how a small dot of light on the tail slowly grew in intensity, forcing the craft to lose navigational control.

The laser can also be used for less offensive purposes by dialing back its intensity to blind sensors aboard the drones.

Plans call for shrinking the size of the laser system while also boosting its strength to 50 kilowatts, and ultimately 100 kilowatts. Shrinking its size will make it easier to mount on more mobile vehicles that can be used on the battlefield. Increasing the wattage will allow the beam to hit faster-moving targets at greater distances and in a shorter amount of time. For example, a 100 kilowatt laser beam will be able to bring down a target in a tenth of the time it currently takes for a 10 kilowatt laser.

The laser is able to fire and target only one incoming target at a time, so the idea is that when the lasers are fully operational they will be grouped in teams of three or five to protect against multiple incoming rounds. These laser units could be deployed in the future to help protect frontline units or bases . Ultimately the laser could be used against faster moving aircraft and cruise missiles.

The Navy made waves earlier this year when it unveiled that its own laser mounted aboard a destroyer had brought down test drones and which in the future could be used to fend off fast-moving attack boats.

Current plans call for the Navy’s laser to be tested aboard the USS Ponce, which is permanently stationed in the Persian Gulf.

The next phase of testing for the Army’s laser will be early next year when it is taken to an Air Force base along Florida’s Gulf Coast to see how it handles a marine environment.

So far the Army’s laser testing program has cost about $13 million a year since it began in 2011. But over the long term it looks like a good deal as the cost of taking out each mortar round is estimated to be the price of a cup of diesel fuel.

15 Comments

  1. You gotta wonder about the effectiveness of this weapon. It has to dwell on the target too long it seems to accomplish a burn through. Five mortar rounds might land while this thing burns through the first one. I think they should stick to the drones,cruise missiles or other high value targets. If you gotta deploy five of these to handle five rapid fire mortars, it would seem easy to saturate. Then what happens to your high value lasers.

  2. Ground crew knocking out mortar shells sounds amazing. Yeah laser took a long time. Can it tag a moving object for target by another weapon?

    Down side is the more tech the fed has the less chance he will worry about what us peons think of him.

  3. Maybe one day they will have multiple independently targeted beams on each vehicle. They need much more power to achieve faster burn through though. Maybe a new generation of capacitors. I think rail guns would be more effective. Getting hit with a 6000 MPH dart would be instantaneous destruction and free up the weapon for the next engagement. Only thing , the poor bastard two miles away might get a dart through the head.

  4. Mikhail Kalashnikov (anti ruskie rant)
    Cold War era Poles called the Russian standing Army stupid as hell and all they knew was that they were happy to have shoes and food. Oh yeah lets celebrate an invading commie with the best assault rifel in the world.

    This guys family was screwed over big time by the Commies and he was smart enough know the Party were a bunch of political sociopaths and criminal thugs. Could care less he croaked. Russian achievements were military to control and occupy and feed the Party and expand it’s power. These fux had zero conscience that we could relate to. Chinese were stupid also but the Red’s starved millions by design.
    In the bigger picture maybe thank both for culling out their own ignorant numbers. Bad idea thinking the oppressed and suffering are the good guys. Hard to believe the satellite nations don’t expose and condemn the Ruskie every chance they get. Maybe because the KGB thugs went underground and today’s leaders exposing them means exposing the satellite nations traitors, many still living.

    I would take his AK and not thank him for it.

  5. Dump truck with plywood. The secret is the paint job, certain to send the regular army screaming in horror. The comet on the side, again a masterful addition to the camouflage scheme. Whistling

  6. ..yeah me too,a fucking tonsillectomy…I know the odds,but damn her heart is beating isn`t that worth the expense…just what the fuck has this country come to…fucking bunch of self centered son of a bitches….frankly I `d like to start thinning the cock suckers out…damn morons…just die !!

  7. Great little flick, I recommend the Atomic Bomb Movie (also narrated by Capt. Kirk), which also comes with some 3-D glasses so you can watch a couple of tests at the end of the movie.

    Must have been created by the same people. Music is remarkably similar. Best scene toward the end of the flick, Chinese cavalry in gas masks charging into a blast area, their horses wearing larger versions of the same masks.

  8. Yep, same director (Peter Kuran) as Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie.

    Same Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

  9. Some of the choral music on the Atomic Bomb Movie makes the hair on my neck stand up. Takes me back to curling up in the fetal position in the school hallway for our ‘nuke’ response practice.

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