By John Keller
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.—A laser weapon mounted on an Avenger combat vehicle destroyed 50 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) like those that kill U.S. service members in Iraq and Afghanistan during September testing, say officials of the Boeing Co., designer of the Avenger high-power laser.
The Avenger military laser destroyed large-caliber artillery munitions, smaller bomblets, and mortar rounds during tests Sept. 22–24 at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. These kinds of munitions typically are parts of IED systems. The Boeing Missile Defense Systems Directed Energy Systems unit in Huntsville, Ala., is developing the Avenger high-energy laser system.
A laser weapon mounted on an Avenger combat vehicle, shown at right, destroyed 50 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during tests last September.
Soldiers traveling with Laser Avenger did not have to get out of their armored vehicles or wait for an explosive ordnance disposal team to destroy an IED and continue their mission, Boeing officials say.
“Improvised explosive devices continue to threaten U.S. troops deployed in war zones, and Laser Avenger provides the ultra-precision, stand-off capability our warfighters need today to safely neutralize those threats,” says Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of the Boeing Missile Defense Systems Directed Energy Systems unit. “In addition, Laser Avenger’s versatility makes it useful in a wide range of battlefield conditions.”
The U.S. Defense Department’s Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) sponsored the test, which Boeing and the Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space conducted.
The test follows 2008 and 2009 demonstrations in which Laser Avenger shot down a small unmanned aerial vehicle in each event, and a 2007 demonstration in which an earlier version of Laser Avenger destroyed five targets representing IEDs and unexploded ordnance.
Laser Avenger integrates a directed-energy weapon with the existing kinetic weapons on the Avenger air defense system. Laser Avenger is a Boeing-funded initiative to demonstrate that directed energy weapons are maturing and are relevant to today’s battlefield.
For more information, visit Boeing online at www.boeing.com.