Raytheon tests high-energy laser onboard Apache AH-64 helicopter


Raytheon has successfully test-fired a high-energy laser (HEL) system onboard an Apache AH-64 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, US.

The testing was carried out in collaboration with the US Army Apache Program Management Office and the US Special Operations Command.

The test flight marks the first time a rotary-wing aircraft has used a fully integrated laser system to successfully fire on a target.

According to the company, the test covered a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes, and air speeds.

Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems Advanced Concept and Technologies vice-president Art Morrish said: "Our goal is to pull the future forward.

"This data collection shows we're on the right track. By combining combat proven sensors, like the MTS, with multiple laser technologies, we can bring this capability to the battlefield sooner rather than later."

"By combining combat proven sensors, like the MTS, with multiple laser technologies, we can bring this capability to the battlefield sooner rather than later."

A variant of the multi-spectral targeting system (MTS), an advanced electro-optical infrared sensor, was coupled with a laser during the test to enhance targeting information, situational awareness and beam control.

The test demonstrated the feasibility of high-resolution, multi-band targeting sensor performance and beam propagation in support of HEL capabilities for the rotary-wing attack mission, Raytheon stated.

Additionally, the system met all performance expectations while tracking and directing energy towards a number of targets.

Data collected on the impact of vibration, dust, and rotor downwash on the laser system will help with designs for future HEL systems, according to the statement.


Image: The test flight marks the first time that a rotary-wing aircraft used a fully integrated laser system to successfully fire on a target. Photo: courtesy of the US Army.