Wed, Jan 28, 2009
Successfully Tests Laser Avenger System At White Sands
When it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles, Boeing is known for
its work on ways to keep UAVs flying... but the company is also
testing new methods for shooting them down.
Boeing announced Tuesday has successfully demonstrated a laser
system mounted on an Avenger combat vehicle can shoot down a small
unmanned aerial vehicle like those that increasingly threaten US
troops deployed in war zones.
During tests last month at White Sands Missile Range, NM, Laser
Avenger achieved its principal test objectives by using its
advanced targeting system to acquire and track three small UAVs
flying against a complex background of mountains and desert. The
laser system also shot down one of the UAVs from an operationally
relevant range. These tests mark the first time a combat vehicle
has used a laser to shoot down a UAV.
Representatives of the US Army's Cruise Missile Defense Systems
project office observed the tests.
"Small UAVs armed with explosives or equipped with surveillance
sensors are a growing threat on the battlefield," said Gary
Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed
Energy Systems. "Laser Avenger, unlike a conventional weapon, can
fire its laser beam without creating missile exhaust or gun flashes
that would reveal its position. As a result, Laser Avenger can
neutralize these UAV threats while keeping our troops safe."
The tests follow a 2007 demonstration in which an earlier
version of Laser Avenger neutralized improvised explosive devices
(IEDs) and unexploded ordnance (UXO) on the ground.
"We doubled the laser power; added sophisticated acquisition,
tracking and pointing capability; and simplified and ruggedized the
design," said Lee Gutheinz, Boeing program director for High-Energy
Laser/Electro-Optical Systems. "Boeing developed and integrated
these upgrades in less than a year, underscoring our ability to
rapidly respond to warfighters' needs."
Laser Avenger integrates a directed energy weapon together with
the kinetic weapons on the proven Avenger air defense system
developed by Boeing Combat Systems in Huntsville, AL. It is a
Boeing-funded initiative to demonstrate that directed energy
weapons are maturing and are relevant to today's battlefield.
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