High-Energy Laser Defeats Mortars & Drones in Live-Fire Exercise

In a recent US Army operational assessment at White Sands Missile Range, Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s 50kW-class high energy laser weapon demonstrated repeatable counter-mortar capability By DA Staff / 20 May 2022
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In four weeks of continuous live-fire exercises, an industry team led by Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S) and Kord, a wholly owned subsidiary of KBR, defeated multiple 60mm mortar rounds with a 50kW-class high energy laser integrated on a Stryker combat vehicle.

The directed energy weapon system — part of the US Army’s Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) — acquired, tracked, targeted and defeated multiple mortars and successfully accomplished multiple tests simulating real-world scenarios.

The operational assessment at White Sands Missile Range also included defeating several small, medium and large drones.

“Soldiers in the field face increasingly complex threats, and our combat-proven sensors, software, and lasers are ready to give them a new level of protection,” said Annabel Flores, president of Electronic Warfare Systems for Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “The Army gave us our toughest challenge yet — countering rockets, artillery and mortars — and we took an essential step on the path to providing the maneuverable, short range air defense Soldiers need.”

The DE M-SHORAD effort is aimed at protecting soldiers against various aerial threats, including Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), rotary-wing aircraft, rockets, artillery and mortars. 

Kord serves as the primary integrator of the system on the Stryker combat vehicle, while Raytheon Intelligence & Space provides the 50kW-class high energy laser weapon module, a specialized radar acquisition system, a beam control system and targeting sensor.

“This team once again showed that the HEL system is fully-integrated and ready to provide protection against complex threats,” said Byron Bright, President of KBR Government Solutions. “With an effectively infinite magazine and near-zero cost per shot, HEL is now the proven answer to asymmetric threats like drones and mortars.”

The joint industry team, which includes Rocky Research for power and thermal management, General Dynamics Land Systems for the Stryker platform, and Applied Technology Associates for additional sensors, is preparing to deliver four DE M-SHORAD units to Army Brigade Combat Teams in 2022.

RI&S’ high energy laser weapon systems work on land, in the air and at sea, providing 360-degree coverage that can protect high-value military or civilian assets. Open architecture, scalable power, and ruggedized design adapts to the demands of the mission. HEL weapons can be used as standalone systems or rapidly installed on a variety of platforms. 

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