US Air Force Combat Laser Shoots Down Air Launched Missiles

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) used a ground-based version of a combat laser weapon system shoot down of multiple 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.

The directed energy laser program is on track.

Lockheed has been funded for $26.3 million to build a fiber laser in the tens of kilowatts range as a combat laser for jet fighters. They are to put a prototype laser into a fighter by 2021.

They will shrink the size and weight of lasers down to be able to fit onto a podded system on a tactical fighter jet, while maintaining near perfect beam quality.

Above – During the series of tests at the High Energy Laser System Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range, the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS), acting as a ground-based test surrogate for the SHiELD system, was able to engage and shoot down several air-launched missiles in flight. The demonstration is an important step of the SHiELD system development, by validating laser effectiveness against the target missiles. The final SHiELD system, however, will be much smaller and lighter, as well as ruggedized for an airborne environment. (Courtesy photo)

During the series of tests at the High Energy Laser System Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range, the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS), acting as a ground-based test surrogate for the SHiELD system, was able to engage and shoot down several air-launched missiles in flight. The demonstration is an important step of the SHiELD system development, by validating laser effectiveness against the target missiles. The final SHiELD system, however, will be much smaller and lighter, as well as ruggedized for an airborne environment.

SOURCES – Air Force Research Lab, Lockheed
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

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