Military

Neither rain, nor fog, nor wind stops Boeing's laser weapon destroying targets

Neither rain, nor fog, nor win...
The HEL-MD has successfully engaged targets in foggy conditions
The HEL-MD has successfully engaged targets in foggy conditions
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The HEL-MD has successfully engaged targets in foggy conditions
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The HEL-MD has successfully engaged targets in foggy conditions
The HEL-MD is mounted on an Oshkosh tactical vehicle
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The HEL-MD is mounted on an Oshkosh tactical vehicle

If you've ever gone outside on a foggy night and shined a laser pointer about, you’ve seen two things: how flashy a raygun it makes, and the problem laser weapons face in such conditions as fog and rain scatters the energy that should be destroying missiles. However, in recent tests at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Boeing and the US Army have shown that their High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) is capable of successfully locking onto and taking out targets in very laser-unfriendly foggy, rainy, and windy maritime conditions.

The HEL-MD is the US Army's first mobile, high-energy laser, Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) platform. It consists of a 10-kW high-energy laser mounted on an Oshkosh tactical vehicle and is capable of tracking and engaging (a polite way to say blasting out of the sky) a variety of targets.

It has already undergone extensive testing at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico in 2013 and at Eglin earlier this year, and now Boeing says that it has managed to engage 150 aerial targets. And not just in the clear, sunny skies of New Mexico, but in the windy, rainy, and foggy conditions in Florida that whould normally make for a bad day for the lasers. But the HEL-MD still managed to deal with its targets, including 60 mm mortars and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

The HEL-MD is mounted on an Oshkosh tactical vehicle
The HEL-MD is mounted on an Oshkosh tactical vehicle

Exactly how this was done is something that Boeing is keeping close to its chest, but it’s likely that it involves using a reference laser beam to probe through, for example, the fog so that computers could analyze how the atmospheric conditions were distorting the laser. The optics in the HEL-MD would then refocus the weapon beam, so the distortion, instead of spreading it or bending it off course, puts it back into the right shape.

According to Boeing, the next step for the HEL-MD is to boost the power by swapping out the 10-kW laser with a 50- or 60-kW version as part of a demonstration of how well the laser weapon does against other rocket, artillery, mortar and UAV targets.

"With capabilities like HEL MD, Boeing is demonstrating that directed energy technologies can augment existing kinetic strike weapons and offer a significant reduction in cost per engagement," says Dave DeYoung, Boeing Directed Energy Systems director. "With only the cost of diesel fuel, the laser system can fire repeatedly without expending valuable munitions or additional manpower."

Source: Boeing

7 comments
Stephen N Russell
Place on naval ships & modify on a M1A1 tank alone Test in UK, Scotland, EU.
Nelson
It is so encouraging to know we are finding more and more ways to kill one another.
Bill Bennett
Spot on Nelson! The MIC that Eisenhower warned us about the year before I was born is alive and thriving. However, I would like one of these as a daily driver, parking could be a issue though.
michael_dowling
No,Nelson,lasers would be used mainly used to defend against incoming ordinance,which is,as a rule, unmanned.
Dave Lawrence
I'd be more inclined to be supportive of this "technology" if it were pointing upward at asteroid and meteorite incursions, rather than being used as yet another means to dispassionately kill people
Slowburn
Do the people complaining about an air defense laser really prefer throwing tons of metal into the air without a care as to where it comes down to achieve the same thing.
Ike had just watch his country go bananas over sputnik and including defense contractors taking advantage of it from the loft position of worrying how he was going to justify to the world flying a spy satellite over Russia and them, when Russia gifted him with open skies. Being a military planer second only to Monty he could see the mistakes made in the mad rush to counter the Russian space program. Fools and cowards have used his words to justify their wrong position ever since opposing every improvement in defense systems developed.
Flying Crowbar
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953