Feeds

US military's RAY-GUN truck BLASTS DRONES, mortars OUT OF THE SKY

Here's hoping there's a shark attachment

High performance access to file storage

Pic The US military has successfully tested a truck armed with an auto-targeting laser that can shoot down mortars and flying drones in the air before they cause a kerfuffle for troops on the ground.

Laser truck

Battlefield lasers at last ... Uncle Sam's ray-gun truck

In month-long tests at the White Sands missile range in new Mexico, the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HELMD) blew up 90 mortar rounds and several aerial drones using a 10kW-class laser mounted on an armored vehicle.

"We had considerable success," Terry Bauer, Army program manager for HELMD told the Christian Science Monitor.

The HELMD system uses radar (or as the military calls it "Enhanced Multi Mode Radar") to track targets and focus the laser on them. Once locked, the laser raises the temperature of mortar shells to the point where the explosives they contain combust.

"It falls as a single piece of metal with a little bit of shrapnel. It basically falls where it was going to fall, but it doesn’t explode when it hits the ground," Bauer said. “We turn it into a rock, basically.”

Boeing, which developed the system for the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, said the technology is now ready for an upgrade so that it can carry a 50kW laser, with a more powerful 100kW unit also in the pipeline.

Eventually the military want to use the system to shoot down incoming cruise missiles, rockets and artillery shells, although it'll need some improvements before then. Mortar shells are relatively slow moving and have a trajectory that's easy to predict, but a cruise missile flying a variable course will be a much tougher target to destroy.

Soldiers on deployment in America's many ongoing wars probably won’t get to see the system in action before they are retired. The HELMD system probably won’t be ready for deployment until 2022 at the earliest.

However, El Reg suggests the boffins in the military read Arthur C Clarke's short story Superiority – which is on the reading list for industrial design students at MIT, and describes the dangers of such advanced weapons systems. A highly visible laser truck is going to be the first thing any enemy will want to take out. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.