A recent U.S. Army Stand-To email newsletter, announced a new weapon being developed by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command / Army Forces Strategic Command in collaboration with Boeing Aircraft: a High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL TVD).
This weapon is being developed to destroy incoming mortars, artillery shells, rockets, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles. and MANPADS, which are shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.
The first successful trials took place in late 2013 at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. However, Boeing announced test results on Sept. 8, 2014 that were conducted under extreme weather conditions. Dave DeYoung, Director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems said,
“Under windy, rainy and foggy weather conditions in Florida, these engagements were the most challenging to date with a 10-kilowatt laser on HEL MD. As proven at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in 2013 and at Eglin Air Force Base this spring, HEL MD is reliable and capable of consistently acquiring, tracking and engaging a variety of targets in different environments, demonstrating the potential military utility of directed energy systems.”
The results included
successfully engaging more than 150 aerial targets including 60 mm mortars and . unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Future plans for the system include:
• HEL TVD will conduct a C-RAM and C-UAS demonstration in fiscal year 2022 that supports potential transition into the PEO Missiles and Space.
• A 60-kilowatt fiber laser built by Lockheed Martin will be delivered in fiscal year 2017 to be integrated into the HELMTT to produce a 50-kilowatt-class laser system.
• The HELMTT will conduct a lethality demonstration against a variety of RAM and UAS threats in fiscal year 2018.
HELMTT is the high energy laser mobile test truck on which the laser is mounted.
Add to that is a plan to use this laser defense system to protect the planet from asteroids. This idea might bring to mind the phrase “star wars”.
Bottom line? Not all weapons systems currently being developed are offensive weapons. And that’s a good thing.
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