The Boeing High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) successfully shot UAV drones and 60mm mortars from the sky, with tests done in less than ideal weather conditions. Using a 10-kilowatt laser, HEL MD was able to shoot down or disable 150 targets in foggy and windy weather, and a more powerful laser will be used in the future.
Researchers hope to push the laser cannon power up to 50 or 60 kilowatts, which will be used to defend against UAV attacks, mortars, rockets and enemy artillery. Boeing and the U.S. military don't expect to roll out official HEL MD units for a few more years, if testing continues to go well.
"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," said Dave DeYoung, Boeing Directed Energy Systems director. "With only the cost of diesel fuel, the laser system can fire repeatedly without expending valuable munitions or additional manpower."