The U.S. Air Force has successfully tested a laser weapon system capable of shooting multiple missiles while they are in flight.
The ground-based laser weapon system, a prototype for a weapon which is intended to be mounted on fighter jets, was successfully tested at the High Energy Laser System Test Facility at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on April 23.
The series of tests was run by the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) as part of its Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Program. During the tests, the demonstrator laser weapon system engaged and shot down several air-launched missiles in flight.
The SHiELD program is developing a directed energy laser system on an aircraft pod that will serve to demonstrate self-defense of aircraft against surface-to-air (SAM) and air-to-air (AAM) missiles.
Kelly Hammett, director of AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate said, “This critical demonstration shows that our directed energy systems are on track to be a game changer for our warfighters.”
The test of the SHiELD system validates the effectiveness of lasers against target missiles, said the AFRL. Engineers on the project will now work to make the final SHiELD system much smaller and lighter, as well as ruggedized for an airborne environment.