In the Fall of last year, the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, in collaboration with Raytheon Technologies, conducted a series of successful tests for the Air Force’s first palletized high-energy laser weapon. These tests took place over four consecutive days and involved continuous live-fire exercises at the White Sands Missile Range located in New Mexico.
Designed according to U.S. military specifications, the recently developed palletized laser weapon stands out as the initial 10-kilowatt laser built in a stand-alone configuration, offering the flexibility to be easily transported and mounted in any desired location. Referred to as “H4,” this advanced weapon system marks the fourth operational laser system delivered by Raytheon Technologies to the Air Force, contributing to a total of eight systems provided to the U.S. Department of Defense by the company.
Having successfully undergone the Air Force’s Test and Assessment plan, the palletized laser weapon has proven its capabilities in safeguarding people and valuable assets against short-range airborne threats. The rigorous evaluation process involved a series of live-fire exercises spanning multiple days, during which the weapon effectively detected, targeted, tracked, and neutralized drone targets in various scenarios. These included short-range attacks, swarm attacks, and even long-range threats, showcasing the weapon’s versatility and effectiveness in combating a wide range of aerial challenges.
“Anywhere the Air Force sees a threat from drones, they now have four proven laser weapons that can be deployed to stop asymmetrical threats,” said Michael Hofle, senior director of High-Energy Lasers at Raytheon Technologies. “Whether it’s on a fixed location, a flatbed or even a pickup, these laser weapons are compact, rugged and ready to go. That’s why we’re proud to support the Air Force’s effort to provide this new tech to the personnel who need it in the field, who can trust and be confident in the system’s capabilities.”
Compact and portable, the laser weapon system is ingeniously designed to fit within the confines of a pickup truck bed. It consists of a high-energy laser weapon module, accompanied by a long-range EO/IR (Electro-Optical/Infrared) sensor that serves the dual purpose of functioning as the beam director. This comprehensive system also incorporates essential features such as thermal control, internal electrical power, and targeting software, all thoughtfully integrated to ensure optimal performance in the most demanding combat environments.
Operated through a laptop interface and a video game-style controller, the laser weapon system offers user-friendly controls. Furthermore, it seamlessly integrates with a wide array of existing air defense, command, and control systems. By plugging into these compatible systems, it adds an indispensable layer of defense, providing the necessary capabilities to protect against potential threats.
The palletized laser weapon system was built in the world’s first laser weapon factory in McKinney, Texas, and delivered to the Life Cycle Management Center nine months after receipt of order.
About Raytheon Technologies
Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX) is the world’s largest aerospace and defense company. Our global team of 180,000 employees pushes the limits of known science and redefines how we connect and protect our world. We are advancing aviation, building smarter defense systems and creating innovations to take us deeper into space. The company, with 2022 sales of $67 billion, is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.
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Post Image- Raytheon Technologies drone-killing laser (Image Credit: Raytheon Technologies)