Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S) has conducted a capability demonstration of its High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) at White Sands, in the US.

The live-fire exercise demonstrated that HELWS can be paired with the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) to destroy a swarm of drone targets.

The laser weapon system obtained cues from the NASAMS Fire Distribution Centre, and then leveraged an array of sensors to track, identify, and engage drones at tactically relevant distances.

The HELWS destroyed nine Group one and Group two drones over the White Sands Missile Range.

Multiple US military and civilian agencies, as well as defence ministry officials of allied countries, attended the demonstration.

RI&S Electronic Warfare Systems president Annabel Flores said: “Drone threats are particularly dangerous in any environment, from soccer stadiums to battlefields, because they’re not easy to spot and take down.

“We’re showing the world that our defensive laser weapons can plug into existing air defences to find and drop drones in the blink of an eye.”

Jointly developed by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, the NASAMS medium-range air defence solution includes the Sentinel radar, Fire Distribution Centre, and a suite of effectors.

Raytheon expects that the addition of NASAMS to the list of systems that HELWS already uses will enable the company to offer an air defence system that can protect against uncrewed aircraft threats.

According to a company statement, RI&S’ laser weapon systems are manufactured in Texas, and can work on land, in the air, and at sea.

RI&S is a Raytheon Technologies business. It develops advanced sensors, cyber services, and software solutions.

Last year, RI&S secured a contract for the mobile sensor operations and maintenance services of the Cobra King radar system.