The US Army's High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) has been under development for some years now, however until this point, it's been little more than a proof of concept. But thanks to a new upgrade to its firing system, the HEL MD can now burn most any incoming threat clean out of the sky.
Last time we heard about the HEL MD, it was sporting a 10KW laser -- hot enough to fry a UAV's electronics but not sufficient to handle more traditional threats like rockets, artillery and mortars (collectively known as RAM). That's why Boeing has quintupled its power output to 50KW.
During a series of tests held at White Sands Missile Range earlier this month, the HEL MD successfully knocked more than 90 mortars out of the air, as well as a number of UAVs. In addition to the integrated laser and beam director mounted in the vehicle, the upgraded HEL MD utilised a separate, surrogate radar: the Enhanced Multi Mode Radar to track incoming rounds and queue up shots.
And while the current iteration is quite powerful, Boeing isn't done yet. The next version will double its current out put to a staggering 100KW and be able to kill even cruise missiles. Pew-pew indeed. [US Army via Gizmag]