ST. LOUIS—Officials at Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in St. Louis demonstrated that the company’s Avenger-mounted laser system can neutralize improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnance (UXO) currently threatening U.S. troops in war zones.
During laser firings at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., the Laser Avenger engaged and destroyed five targets representing IED and UXO threats. Laser Avenger, equipped with a 1-kilowatt solid-state laser, also destroyed two small unmanned aerial vehicles that were stationary on the ground.
“Boeing’s investment strategy is to move some of its new directed energy weapon systems into field demonstrations, and Laser Avenger is the first one we’re rolling out,” says Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems. “Laser Avenger provides the speed-of-light and ultra-precision capability that the warfighter needs today to safely neutralize improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance.”
The Boeing-funded Laser Avenger was developed in eight months, company officials say.
Laser Avenger is a Boeing-funded initiative to show that directed energy weapons are relevant to today’s battlefield and are ready to be fielded. Boeing developed the system in only eight months, company officials say.
Laser Avenger also is the latest in a series of Boeing upgrades to expand the Avenger air defense system into an Agile Multi-Role Weapon System (AMWS) with ground-to-ground as well as ground-to-air capability. The laser was added while retaining Avenger’s ability to carry other weapons, including missiles and a machine gun. By building on the Avenger, of which there are more than 600 fielded worldwide, Laser Avenger will take advantage of an existing global logistics network, Boeing officials say.
The laser segment of Laser Avenger will have uses beyond the counter-IED, counter-UXO mission. For instance, it could be upgraded to have a shoot-on-the-move capability and to destroy other kinds of targets, including low-flying unmanned aerial vehicles.