If you’re wary of an impending drone invasion and your usual headgear consists of a homemade tinfoil hat – worry no longer. Boeing has got you covered.
The aerospace giant recently conducted testing on its High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) against aerial targets at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. And we’re pleased to say it works, quite well.
Effectively, the HEL MD is a giant high-energy laser outfitted atop a 500-horsepower Oshkosh 8×8 tactical vehicle. In its most recent testing, Boeing focused its 10-kilowatt laser on more than 150 airborne bogeys, which included both mortars and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Inducing a high level of heat on contact, the laser system burns the target until it either blows up – in the case of the mortars – or crashes.
However, according to Wired, Boeing confirms its next step will be to install a more potent 50- or 60-kilowatt laser on the HEL MD in order to combat larger threats, which will vary but are bound to include rockets, missiles, artillery, and full-size drones. The HEL MD tracks and engages its targets through a state-of-the-art infrared targeting system.
The brute sources power from a 60kW diesel generator, which spools energy to a bank of lithium ion batteries, giving the HEL MD a feasibly endless supply of drone-zapping laser power … so long as the operators pack a few diesel jerrycans.
Considering its highly mobile base, the HEL MD should prove to be an incredibly valuable defensive weapon on the battlefields of tomorrow.