- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A new laser weapon Boeing is developing for the U.S. Army cleared a major test by cutting through fog to destroy enemy targets.

The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) successfully took out drones and 60mm mortars under sub-optimal conditions during tests in Florida earlier this year, the company announced Sept. 4.

Fog and wind did not detract from its performance, which paves the way for the weapon to be used at sea.

“With capabilities like HEL MD, Boeing is demonstrating that directed energy technologies can augment existing kinetic strike weapons and offer a significant reduction in cost per engagement,” Boeing Directed Energy Systems director Dave DeYoung said in a press release. “With only the cost of diesel fuel, the laser system can fire repeatedly without expending valuable munitions or additional manpower.”

Tests in Florida were conducted by a scaled-down version of the weapon to destroy 150 targets at Eglin Air Force Base, Wired magazine reported Aug. 5. Boeing’s 10-kilowatt laser will eventually reach 50 or 60 kilowatts.

Efforts to take the HEL MD from the drawing board to a deployment-worthy weapon have taken close to a decade, the magazine reported.

SEE ALSO: Pentagon’s experimental Phantom Swift X-Plane contract secured by Boeing

Boeing has a $36 million contract with the Army to make it happen.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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