United States firm Raytheon is working toward the shootdown by laser of a mortar round in flight in the fourth quarter (Q4) of this year, company officials confirmed at Farnborough.
The test, which will employ a 50 kW fibre laser, follows a successful bench-test toward the end of 2006 that showed a 20 kW laser could destroy a mortar round at a range greater than 550 m.
The demonstration is in keeping with Raytheon's philosophy of fielding 'new-term' capabilities and promises to prove the viability of Raytheon's Laser Area Defense System (LADS), which integrates a laser with the mount, sensors and fire control system of the company's Phalanx close-in protection system.
"The problem with solid-state lasers is they have been 'three years away' for 10 years," said Mike Booen, Raytheon Missile Systems' vice-president for advanced missile defense and directed energy. He said Raytheon's aim with this and other projects involving new technology was to field an initial capability early and get troops used to working with it rather than continuing to pursue a more perfect system in the lab.