Combat lasers will protect against drone swarms

Raytheon has a High Energy Laser (HEL) mounted a dune buggy which can be charged from a 220 volt outlet then scan for enemy drones for four hours and fire up to thirty shots.

The system is standalone, with a footprint of roughly 30 square feet. On a single charge from a standard 220v outlet, the same kind you plug your washing machine into at home, the HEL system onboard the MRZR delivers four hours of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and 20 to 30 laser shots. The system can also be coupled with a generator to provide virtually infinite magazine depth.

While the laser and the vehicle are sure to draw all the attention, it’s the weaponized MTS sensor package that is the core of the system. In this configuration, the MTS provides its standard setting ISR and tracking capabilities while also serving as a beam director.

That’s something Allison says sets this combo apart from bigger, more power-hungry systems. “If you have a good beam director, then you can use a smaller, more efficient laser. You can make your system smaller and more flexible,” said Allison.

Larger combat lasers currently at 5 kilowatt but moving up to 100-kilowatts

The US Army is field testing a 5-kilowatt laser project is part of the Mobile Experimental High Energy Laser program.

The US Army has $118 million of funding to develop a 50-kilowatt laser as part of short-range air defense systems (SHORAD) in the next five years, and Space and Missile Defense Command’s is working on a 100-kilowatt laser.