Truck mounted army laser shoots down incoming mortar and drones

AFP:
The US Army has for the first time successfully tested a vehicle-mounted laser that managed to shoot down incoming mortar rounds and drone aircraft, officials said Thursday.


Installed in a dome-shaped turret atop a military vehicle, the high-energy laser hit more than 90 mortar bombs and several small unmanned planes over a six-week test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The experimental weapon, dubbed the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), likely would not be operational until 2022 if the Army decides to purchase the system, according to officials.

The weapon, with three to five lasers, is designed to protect remote bases from mortar, artillery or rocket fire. Such attacks were frequent against "forward operating" bases in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.

The laser used in the test this month had a strength of 10 kilowatts (kW), but the program will next use more powerful lasers of 50 kW and then, finally, 100 kW, officials said.

"If you're engaging a target at the same range, a 100 kW laser will destroy the target in one-tenth of the time than the 10kW would," said Terry Bauer, a program manager at Boeing, the lead contractor on the project.
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This sounds like a better solution to incoming rockets than the costly iron dome system in Israel.  The Israelis would probably look to have such a system in place much earlier than the project 2022 date.  It appears to be primarily for defending forward operating bases, but could also help defend convoys in an ambush situation.

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