The US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command has successfully tested the vehicle mounted high energy laser mobile demonstrator (HEL MD) at its High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF) in New Mexico.
During the multiple test events, carried out between 18 November and 10 December, the vehicle-mounted high energy laser successfully engaged more than 90 mortar rounds and several unmanned aerial vehicles in flight for the first time.
The trials were aimed at demonstrating the potential of directed-energy technology to defend troops against rockets, artillery and mortars (RAM), in addition to UAVs, cruise missiles, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors mounted on the UAVs.
Subsequent to low- and medium-power test demonstrations carried out in 2011, the latest trials marked the first complete demonstration of the HEL MD incorporating laser and vehicle-mounted beam director, in addition to enhanced multi mode radar (surrogate radar) offered support by lining up the laser.
As part of the latest trials, the HEL MD platform used a 10kW class laser, which would be replaced by a 50-kW laser in the future prior to being upgraded to a 100-kW class laser for succeeding demonstrations.
The supporting thermal and power subsystems would also be upgraded to comply with the requirements of the highly powerful solid-state lasers, which are anticipated to boost the effective range of the laser, while bringing down the required laser time on target
Boeing is the prime contractor for the SMDC's Technical Center managed HEL MD programme.
Image: Illustration of the US Army's high energy laser mobile demonstrator. Photo: courtesy of US Army.