Boeing has successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of the high-energy laser mobile demonstrator (HEL MD) in maritime conditions during a testing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, US.

Undertaken in collaboration with the US Army, the demonstration involved a HEL MD that used a 10kW high-energy laser installed on an Oshkosh military vehicle, and successfully engaged more than 150 aerial targets, including 60mm mortars and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Boeing Directed Energy Systems director Dave DeYoung said: "Under windy, rainy and foggy weather conditions in Florida, these engagements were the most challenging to date with a 10kW laser on HEL MD.

"As proven at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in 2013 and at Eglin Air Force Base this spring, HEL MD is reliable and capable of consistently acquiring, tracking and engaging a variety of targets in different environments, demonstrating the potential military utility of directed energy systems."

"Boeing is demonstrating that directed energy technologies can augment existing kinetic strike weapons and provide cost savings."

A joint initiative between Boeing and the army, HEL MD is a mobile system featuring ruggedised high-energy laser and subsystems installed aboard tactical vehicles to prevent the forward operating bases, air bases and other military facilities against counter rocket, artillery and mortar threats.

Commenting on the system, DeYoung said: "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.

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"With only the cost of diesel fuel, the laser system can fire repeatedly without expending valuable munitions or additional manpower."

The team plans to install a 50kW or 60kW laser on HEL MD to demonstrate counter RAM and UAV capability at the tactically significant power level.

The 50kW or 60kW is scheduled to be upgraded to a 100kW class laser in subsequent demonstrations, while the supporting thermal and power subsystems will also be upgraded to increase the effective range of the laser or decrease the required laser time on target.

Image: The high energy laser mobile demonstrator during demonstrations in Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of Boeing.

Defence Technology