U.S. defense contractor Raytheon Co announced that it successfully delivered the first high-energy laser counter-unmanned aerial system to the U.S. Air Force earlier this month.
In recent years, the Defense Department has assessed directed energy weapons—more commonly known as “lasers”—as an affordable alternative to traditional firepower to keep enemy drones from tracking and targeting troops on the ground.
The system will be deployed overseas as part of a year-long Air Force experiment to train operators and test the system’s effectiveness in real-world conditions.
Raytheon’s high-energy laser weapon system uses an advanced variant of the company’s Multi-spectral Targeting System, an electro-optical/infrared sensor, to detect, identify and track rogue drones. Once targeted, the system engages the threat, neutralizing the UAS in a matter of seconds.
“Five years ago, few people worried about the drone threat,” said Roy Azevedo, president of Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. “Now, we hear about attacks or incursions all the time. Our customers saw this coming and asked us to develop a ready-now counter-UAS capability. We did just that by going from the drawing board to delivery in less than 24 months.”
Raytheon installed its high-energy laser weapon system on a small all-terrain vehicle. On a single charge from a standard 220-volt outlet, the HELWS can deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and dozens of precise laser shots. It can also be paired with a generator to provide a nearly infinite number of shots.
Raytheon Company is integrating multiple proven technologies to counter the unmanned aerial system threat across a wide range of scenarios – from commercial airports to forward operating bases to crowded stadiums. Raytheon’s portfolio of sensors, command and control systems, and kinetic and non-kinetic effectors covers all aspects of the UAS threat.
— Raytheon (@Raytheon) October 22, 2019