Wednesday, February 21, 2024

US Air Force gets new combat-ready laser weapon

Raytheon Technologies Corporation, an aerospace and defense company, on Tuesday announced that the U.S. Air Force has received its fourth combat-ready laser weapon.

According to a press release from Raytheon, the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Raytheon Technologies successfully tested the Air Force’s first palletized high-energy laser weapon during four days of continuous live-fire exercises at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The new palletized laser weapon was the first 10-kilowatt laser built to U.S. military specifications in a stand-alone configuration that can be moved and mounted anywhere it’s needed. Known as “H4,” it is the fourth operational laser weapon system that Raytheon Technologies has delivered to the Air Force and is the eighth total system the company has delivered to the US Department of Defense.

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The palletized laser weapon, aimed at protecting people and assets against short-range aerial threats, passed the Air Force’s Test and Assessment plan. This included multiple days of live-fire exercises to acquire, target, track and destroy drone targets in short-range attack, swarm attack, and long-range threat scenarios.

“Anywhere the Air Force sees a threat from drones, they now have four proven laser weapons that can be deployed to stop asymmetrical threats,” said Michael Hofle, senior director of High-Energy Lasers at Raytheon Technologies. “Whether it’s on a fixed location, a flatbed or even a pickup, these laser weapons are compact, rugged and ready to go. That’s why we’re proud to support the Air Force’s effort to provide this new tech to the personnel who need it in the field, who can trust and be confident in the system’s capabilities.”

Image credit: Raytheon

Small enough to fit in the bed of a pickup truck, the laser weapon system comprises a high-energy laser weapon module, a long-range EO/IR sensor that also serves as the beam director, thermal control, internal electrical power, and targeting software—all packaged together for use in the toughest combat environments. It is operated with a laptop and a video game-style controller, and it can plug into a long list of existing air defense, and command and control systems to provide a needed layer of defense.

The palletized laser weapon system was built in the world’s first laser weapon factory in McKinney, Texas, and delivered to the Life Cycle Management Center nine months after receipt of order.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Colton Jones
Colton Jones
Colton Jones is the deputy editor of Defence Blog. He is a US-based journalist, writer and publisher who specializes in the defense industry in North America and Europe. He has written about emerging technology in military magazines and elsewhere. He is a former Air Force airmen and served at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

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