U.S. Army hails success with drone-shooting laser

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The U.S. Army said its latest defense technology — a vehicle-mounted laser — has passed a recent test with flying colors, successfully shooting a drone from the sky and intercepting and destroying several mortar rounds.

The laser, dubbed the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD, and placed atop a military vehicle, hit more than 90 mortar bombs, as well as several drones, during a six-week test period conducted in New Mexico at the White Sands Missile Range, Agency France-Presse reported.


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The technology probably won’t be completely operational and ready for mission until 2022, because developers are going to be working on increasing the power and range of the lasers. And the Army still has decide whether or not to buy the system, officials said to AFP.

But the technology is proving top-notch and could go far in helping to protect troops from mortar, artillery or rocket fire, said one Boeing official.

“The system is capable of rapidly acquiring with the radar these very small targets and point a laser beam about the size of a quarter and destroy the targets while they’re flying,” said Mike Rim, a program manager at Boeing, in the AFP report.

Improvements to the system will enable it to take down objects that are moving at faster speeds than mortar rounds — like cruise missiles, the military officials told AFP.

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