U.S. Army THEL shoots down mortar rounds

Aug. 30, 2004
Redondo Beach, CA, August 30, 2004--The Tactical High Energy Laser, built by Northrop Grumman Corporation for the U.S. Army, shot down multiple mortar rounds Aug. 24, demonstrating that laser weapons could be applied on the battlefield to protect against common threats.

Redondo Beach, CA, August 30, 2004--The Tactical High Energy Laser, built by Northrop Grumman Corporation for the U.S. Army, shot down multiple mortar rounds Aug. 24, demonstrating that laser weapons could be applied on the battlefield to protect against common threats. In tests representative of actual mortar threat scenarios, the THEL testbed destroyed both single mortar rounds and mortar rounds fired in a salvo at White Sands Missile Range (NM).

The tests were conducted by the Army as part of the Mobile THEL (MTHEL) program. The purpose of the MTHEL program is to develop and test the first mobile Directed Energy weapon system capable of detecting, tracking, engaging, and defeating rockets, artillery, and mortars (RAMs); cruise missiles; short-range ballistic missiles; and unmanned aerial vehicles. The Army is collaborating with the Israeli Ministry of Defense in the execution of the MTHEL program.

"These successful tests once again prove the versatility of the THEL testbed to counter a wide range of threats, particularly low-tech weapons like mortars," said Patrick Caruana, vice president of Space and Missile Defense for Northrop Grumman Space Technology. "For the first time, we have a way to protect our forces, and those of our allies, against almost daily mortar attacks. Together with the U.S. Army, we have overcome the technical hurdles and we're ready to move laser weapons onto the battlefield."

The THEL testbed has shot down a variety of threats since 2000, ranging from Katyusha rockets to artillery shells and large-caliber rockets, and now mortar threats as well. The THEL demonstrator was designed, developed and produced by a Northrop Grumman-led team of U.S. and Israeli contractors for the U.S. Space & Missile Defense Command (Huntsville, AL), and the Israeli Ministry of Defense. In addition to Northrop Grumman's Space Technology and Mission Systems sectors, U.S. companies involved in testbed development are Ball Aerospace and Brashear LP. Israeli companies that supported THEL ACTD development are Electro-Optic Industries, Israel Aircraft Industries, and Tadiran.

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