Military

US Air Force gets drone-killing laser

US Air Force gets drone-killin...
The Raytheon HELWS uses a Multi-spectral Targeting System
The Raytheon HELWS uses a Multi-spectral Targeting System
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The Raytheon HELWS engaging a target
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The Raytheon HELWS engaging a target
The Raytheon HELWS is installed in a small vehicle
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The Raytheon HELWS is installed in a small vehicle
The Raytheon HELWS uses a Multi-spectral Targeting System
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The Raytheon HELWS uses a Multi-spectral Targeting System

The US Air Force has taken delivery of its first high-energy laser for shooting down Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). Built by Raytheon, it will be used in overseas deployments as part of a year-long experiment to test the laser weapon and to train operators in real-world scenarios.

Laser weapons are starting to move out of the realm of science fiction and into the real world, and it seems that the US Air Force is looking at the small end to deal with UAVs. It may appear odd to use a high-tech energy beam to take out a quadcopter, but in many ways, it's a neat match of threat and capabilities.

Though most of them are small, drones can be a major threat in the wrong hands as shown by recent events where such devices have been used to attack oil production facilities and shut down airports. At the same time, solid-state laser weapons are still relatively low powered in absolute terms, but they have already shown themselves effective in field tests against UAVs.

This is because a laser can not only deliver a kill-shot that can destroy or, at the very least, blind a UAV but it can do so at the speed of light and at the cost of a dollar per round. In the case of Raytheon, the company has developed a High-Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) around its Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which is an electro-optical/infrared sensor that can detect, identify, and track hostile drones, allowing the laser to lock on and engage in a matter of seconds.

Raytheon's new laser is mounted on a small all-terrain vehicle and can use a single charge from a standard 220-volt mains outlet to not only fire a dozen laser shots, but also provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Hooked to a generator, it can deliver a near-infinite number of shots.

"Five years ago, few people worried about the drone threat," says Roy Azevedo, president of Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. "Now, we hear about attacks or incursions all the time. Our customers saw this coming and asked us to develop a ready-now counter-UAS capability. We did just that by going from the drawing board to delivery in less than 24 months."

The video below introduces the Raytheon High-Energy Laser Weapon System.

Raytheon's High-Energy Laser Weapon System Counters UAS Threats

Source: Raytheon

4 comments
Colt12
Also good for bird hunting.
GregVoevodsky
And how much money does it cost for a $1200 drone? Are all airports like LAX going to deploy one, I hope under a million. Sadly, I'm guessing more. We don't need mobile units at both ends of the runway. Guess we have to wait when a drone brings down a plane someday. Funny, how it has not happened yet after 5+ years ?!
ljaques
Cool, takes down toys. Now please show us how effective it would be against a Houthi drone, Reaper, Sky-X, Aura, Taranis, A-10PCAS, AVIC 601S, Vestel Karayel, Burraq, GIDS Shahpar, GIDS Uqab, Shahed 129 from Iran, Barracuda, or Russian Sukhoi Okhotnik drones. (from our allies and opponents). NOGO? OK, now show us the terawatt or petawatt models. Vroom, vroom!
warren52nz
Coming soon... UAV with mirrored coating. Watch out for that random reflection!!!