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Boeing testing truck-mounted high energy laser


October 4, 2012

The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) that will incorporate a 10-kilowatt solid-state laser (Photo: Boeing)

The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) that will incorporate a 10-kilowatt solid-state laser (Photo: Boeing)

With the solid-state high-energy lasers already being tested on the sea and in the air, Boeing is continuing development of a truck-mounted system. The system is similar in concept to Boeing’s Laser Avenger that is intended for combating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but boasts a more powerful laser for countering a wider variety of threats, including rockets, artillery, mortars, as well as UAVs.

Testing in 2009 of the Laser Avenger used a 1-kilowatt, solid-state laser system mounted on an Avenger ground combat vehicle, but the truck-mounted system will see a 10-kilowatt, solid-state laser incorporated with the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) system. Boeing says there is also the option of incorporating an even more powerful laser in the future.

A joint development effort between Boeing and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC), the HEL MD program will now enter Phase II high-power testing as part of a follow-on contract that supports development and testing for the next three years. Field tests using the high-power, solid-state laser will be conducted over the next year to demonstrate the system’s ability to “acquire, track, damage and defeat threat-representative targets.”

Source: Boeing

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Am I missing something... Didn't the army have a humvee with a 10kw laser mounted on it like a decade ago!? Nice to see my tax dollars developing the same thing they did last decade!

Derek Howe

Price of sophisticated vulnerable weapon, 1 Billion dollars. Price of weapons that can immobilize the laser: RPG rocket $200. long range sniper bullet $20.

Hooray for wasting pricless tax dollars...

Sharon Hamilton

@Sharon Hamilton Sure... but you can't shoot down a UAV, mortars, or shells with an RPG or rifle now can you.

@Derek I'm guessing you need the truck to perform things other than just blowing up mines, which is basically what the humvee version was for.

Tyler LeCouffe

Also, the bullet has never been more than just a little bit of the real cost of sniper team. You are missing the training and selection, and to a lesser degree, the gun, the insertion and extraction. My concern with lasers is if they can cope with smoke, as there are dedicated smoke generating vehicles.


Folks: During my work as a Seismic Surveyor, I used Electronic Distance Measuring machines, which had IR as the frequency that measured the distance. I have had the EDM cheerfully measure the distance to the Reflector (a special surveyors' Corner Reflector), thru fog so thick that I could not see the Reflector with my 29 power telescope on my Survey Instrument. : I suspect a solid-state laser will be able to 'tune' to burn thru Smoke. There is a high possibility for the tuning to be able to find the frequency where the smoke is least effective, as well. The Fusion Powered hover-Tank, armed with Main Guns able to make even orbiting Satellites and Spacecraft vulnerable, is getting closer, eh?

Neil Frandsen

Detecting, and tracking an incoming morter shell...that's a good trick. Putting an energy beam on it long enough to detonate it.. that's even better. But they are not saying anything about how many incomming objects they can track, how quickly they can determine if it's a real threat, or a golf ball, and how quickly they can repeat the kill shot.

I suppose just detecting and tracking would be helpful on the battle field... "Hey you guys over there... RUN!" But if a flock of geese overwhelms the system... then no good.

And most lasers can only deliver peak power for short periods and need refreshing inbetween shots. If this thing can only soot, say once every 10 seconds... and my morter flys for 15... then give me 3 rounds to defeat it.

Matthew Bailey

Counter battery systems that detect incoming artillery/mortar rounds then identify the firing position exist today.

Incapacitating, blinding, or destroying multi-million dollar aircraft, drones, or projectiles is often considered very useful by the folks who are targets.

Modern lasers are so powerful there is no long burn time.

Or detection systems could be combined with both lasers and rail guns.

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