BY John Keller
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.—U.S. Army laser weapons experts are making plans to test the truck-mounted High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD) this fall at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., after engineers at The Boeing Company’s Directed Energy Systems segment in Huntsville, Ala., completed system integration of key components for the mobile future laser weapon. The High Energy Laser is designed to defend Army troops against rockets, artillery shells, mortars, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and similar threats.
|The artist’s rendering above depicts a future truck-mounted, high-energy laser designed to defend against UAVs, rockets, mortars, and artillery shells.|
Boeing engineers have installed the HEL TD’s beam-control system and additional hardware, onto the heavy military truck that, once deployed, will carry the laser weapon where military forces need it most. Boeing is responsible for integrating the HEL TD’s beam-control subsystem onto the Oshkosh Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT). The Northrop Grumman Corp. Space Systems segment in Redondo Beach, Calif., also is working on the HEL TD program.
This latest systems-integration effort paves the way for low-power system testing at the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range sometime this fall to demonstrate the system’s ability to acquire, track, and target moving projectiles.
The HEL TD is designed to acquire, track, and choose the aim point on a target, reshape and align the system’s multi-hundred-kilowatt laser beam, and focus the laser beam on the target. The system employs mirrors, high-speed processors, and high-speed optical sensors, as well as a solid-state laser that generates a beam stronger than 100 kilowatts.
The HEL TD program will help move directed-energy technologies into Army acquisition programs to provide ultra-precision strike with little to no collateral damage. Such applications include disrupting electro-optical infrared (IR) sensors and neutralizing mines from a safe distance.
Managing the HEL TD program is the Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command headquarters at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.