The US Air Force has announced on Friday that they successfully used a laser weapons system to shot down multiple missiles while in flight. The system called Self-Protect High-Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) and the testing takes place at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The system is designed to be placed on aircraft to protect it from attacks.
“During the series of tests at the High Energy Laser System Test Facility, the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System, acting as a ground-based test surrogate for the SHiELD system, was able to engage and shoot down several air launched missiles in flight,” the Air Forcewrote in a statement.
The system is intended to be mounted on the Aircraft where it could b used to shoot down incoming surface-to-air or air-to-air launched missiles. It includes three major components, a laser system, a control system to aim, and a pod that would power everything. Also, the laboratory underline some of the advantages which a system could bring to the table, which is to be highly accurate and instantaneously hit targets, wouldn’t have a limited magazine, will allow pilots to re-aim to hit extra targets quickly, and probably not be susceptible to traditional counter-measures, like flares or jamming devices.
“The demonstration is an important step of the SHiELD system development, by validating laser effectiveness against the target missiles. The final SHiELD system, however, will be much smaller and lighter, as well as ruggedized for an airborne environment, stated in the report.
They said the system is not like full waterproof, therefore, the weather could potentially interfere with its operation. The US Air Force has been working on this system from over years now, the project began in 2016 and the service issued a contract to Lockheed Martin in 2017 to manufacture the system with the aim of testing it on an aircraft in 2021. As for now, Lockheed Martin and the Air Force Research Laboratory will have to miniaturize the technology so that it can be used on planes.
The SHiELD is not the only laser technology organization who is in the tests by the US military army. Last summer, the US army tested a system mounted on an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.