The US Army will mount a laser cannon on a heavy expanded mobility tactical truck (HEMTT) being delivered to Boeing in an effort to unveil the world’s first ground combat raygun vehicle.

The Oshkosh Corporation-built 20t, 8×8 wheeled blaster-lorry will be known as the high-energy laser tactical demonstrator (HEL TD) and will be based in a US military base abroad.

Boeing Missile Defense Systems directed energy systems vice-president Gary Fitzmire said the demonstration programme had successfully transitioned from the design phase to the fabrication phase.

“This transformational, solid-state laser weapon capability will provide speed-of-light, ultra-precision capability that will dramatically improve warfighters’ ability to counter rocket, artillery and mortar projectiles,” Fitzmire said.

The army sometimes uses automatically aimed gatling cannons to counter rockets and mortars using self-destruct timer fuses in the shells, which avoid destruction over the surrounding neighbourhood but cannot stop the duds scattering around.

The laser cannon, has been chosen by the army as it does not have the scattering issue and does not run out of ammunition like the chemically fuelled cannon.

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Boeing said the HEL TD was being tested against real targets, but using a low-power surrogate in place of the high-energy laser.