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US Army tests a high-energy LASER that can instantly take down enemy drones on the battlefield

  • Researchers are testing Stryker-mounted 5kw laser weapons to destroy drones
  • Infantry soldiers were able to test the system for the first time
  • During a ten day firing exercise 50 drones were brought down by the laser

A silent killer that could spell the end for enemy drones has been tested by US Army infantry troops for the first time.

During a ten day firing exercise, 50 drones were brought down by the laser weapon, an improved version of a system that was tested last year.

And it is hoped that Stryker infantry-transport vehicles mounted with the laser could soon be deployed to the front lines.

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A silent laser system that could take down enemy drones has been tested by the US army. The Mobile High Energy Laser is mounted on Stryker infantry-transport vehicles (pictured)

Researchers are engineering and testing lasers that can destroy and melt components of incoming threats, including enemy drones, missiles, mortars, and artillery.

The laser can now achieve five kilowatts of power, up from two last year.

By 2018, it's hoped that it will be able to shoot an 18-kilowatt beam.

It includes on-board radar tacking and a camera which allows soldiers to visually track enemy drones and aircraft, as well as increased range.

It can perform a 'hard kill,' when the on-board laser shoots a drone out of the sky, and also includes the ability to cut off communications between a drone and its ground control station - what is termed a 'soft kill'.

The Mobile High Energy Laser (MEHEL) is just one system the US Army is exploring to deal with the growth of inexpensive off-the-shelf unmanned aerial systems that are being used in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

MEHEL 2.0 is one of three drone-killing systems under evaluation at the 2017 Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, which ran from April 3 to April 13.

The laser can now achieve five kilowatts of power, up from two last year.

By 2018, it's hoped that it will be able to shoot an 18-kilowatt beam.

It includes on-board radar tacking and a camera which allows soldiers to visually track enemy drones and aircraft, as well as increased range.

It can perform a 'hard kill,' when the on-board laser shoots a drone out of the sky, and also includes the ability to cut off communications between a drone and its ground control station - what is termed a 'soft kill'.

And this is the first time that infantry soldiers have been in charge of testing the system.

Lieutenant colonel, Jeff Erts, who is in charge of the experiments, said:  'They love the system and they are excited about not only what they can do with it in the air, but what they can do with it on the ground as well.'

The 5kW laser system was used to destroy 50 unmanned aerial vehicles (pictured) during the 2017 Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma which ran from April 3 to April 13.

Also tested was The Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply System, or JTARS.

This drone is designed to move materials from the rear of the battlefield to the front line, without requiring a manned convoy operation. 

The JTARS vehicle flew two low-weight individual first aid kits a short distance, as part a demonstration of the system.

Last year, MEHEL 1.0  was capable of shooting down 21 out of 23 drone targets. 

At that time, the laser could achieve two kilowatts of power.

Also tested was The Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply System, or JTARS  (pictured), a drone designed to move materials from the rear of the battlefield to the front line

Researchers are also working to deploy laser weapons for Forward Operating Bases.

These, too, could incinerate and destroy approaching enemy drones or other threats, including mortars and cruise missiles.

Last June, it was revealed that laser weapons and Stinger missiles could be integrated into detection systems and mounted on vehicles, including Humvees and Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, to better protect ground units.

A Ground-Based Air Defense (GBAD) Directed Energy On-The-Move was then set to head into the next phase of development, enabling the vehicles to fire lasers while in motion. 

Last June, it was revealed that laser weapons and Stinger missiles could be integrated into detection systems and mounted on vehicles, including Humvees and Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, to better protect ground units

The system mounted atop a ground vehicle can fire a 30 kilowatt-laser while stationary.

When completed in 2022 it will be able to fire on the go, and will likely be used by the Marine Corps to be paired with the Stinger Missile system.

This would give ground units a long overdue upgrade, after decades of operation with the Stinger.

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