Boeing Laser Avenger Military Weapon
Boeing's current tests of the Avenger Laser System show that directed energy weapons are relevant to today's battlefield and are ready to be fielded.
In late September 2007, Boeing successfully tested a 1kw solid state laser weapon mounted on a converted Humvee anti-aircraft vehicle in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. The Laser Avenger was able to successfully destroy several unexploded mortar shells and two unmanned aerial vehicles, both of which were on the ground.
Humvee Mounted Lasver Avenger
Until recently, military lasers were extremely big. Powerful lasers such as Boeing’s Airborne Laser (ABL) developed in order to destroy ballistic missiles in flight from a distance of hundreds of miles were so big they required a fully modified Boeing 747-400F to house the system. Thanks to new developments in solid state laser technology, the Avenger system is more compact than any previous military lasers.
The Avenger system works by aiming a laser beam at a roadside bomb or unexploded ammunition “and then increasing the power until the explosive fizzles out in a low yield detonation,” explained Gary Fitzmire, Boeing’s Vice President who is in charge of the Laser Avenger Program.
Boeing Laser Avenger
The solid state laser mounted on the Avenger uses glass or crystalline materials, with additives, to create the beam. For many years, these types of lasers had been considered too weak to be used for many military tasks, but Boeing’s recent successful experiment has proved that solid state laser-based weapons are finally suitable for military service.
In the current test, the system was only able to successfully destroy stationery ground targets using its 1kw laser. However Boeing plan to introduce the first operational laser-based weapon systems in the not too distant future and are also considering the development of an upgraded weapons’ system that will have a shoot-on-the-move capability and the ability to destroy other kinds of targets, including low-flying unmanned aerial vehicles.
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