U.S. Army's vehicle-mounted High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator shoots down UAVs, mortar rounds

Dec. 13, 2013
White Sands Missile Range, NM--The U.S. Army announced that its High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), a truck-mounted electrically powered solid-state laser, has shot down several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in flight, as well as more than 90 mortar rounds.

White Sands Missile Range, NM--The U.S. Army announced that its High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), a truck-mounted electrically powered solid-state laser, has shot down several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in flight, as well as more than 90 mortar rounds. The tests were held between November 18 and December 10, 2013 at the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility located at White Sands Missile Range.

The HEL MD is mounted on a standard Army battlefield truck called the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck. The 10 kW laser currently in the HEL MD will be boosted to 50 kW for future tests, with an eventual upgrade to 100 kW, to increase the effective range of the laser and/or decrease the required laser dwell time on the target.

First "full-up" test

The Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC)/Army Forces Strategic Command says that this was the first full-up demonstration of the HEL MD in a configuration that included the laser and beam director mounted in the vehicle. A surrogate radar called the Enhanced Multi Mode Radar supported the engagement by queuing the laser.

Mortars travel at low velocities for short ranges in high-arcing trajectories; most UAVs, of course, travel at even lower velocities. Because everything in a laser shoot-down (other than the electronic processing) happens at light speed, there is no need to lead the UAV or mortar when aiming.

The HEL MD is being developed to shoot down rockets, artillery, mortars, UAVs and cruise missiles. The HEL MD program is managed by SMDC's Technical Center.

Earlier low- and medium-power test demonstrations took place in 2011; high-power testing is now concluded at HELSTF. The Boeing Company is the prime contractor for the HEL MD program.

The U.S. Navy has its own high-power laser weapon system, appropriately called the Laser Weapon System (LaWS). The ship-mounted laser has six incoherently combined 5.5 kW fiber lasers; the multimode 33 kW beam has been used in tests to shoot down UAVs.

Source: http://www.army.mil/article/116740/Army_vehicle_mounted_laser_successfully_demonstrated_against_multiple_targets/

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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