Boeing, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command have begun testing the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD): a truck-mounted laser cannon, capable of shooting down missiles.
Funded by a $38 million military contract, this 10kw solid-state laser has been successfully fitted to an eight-wheeled Oshkosh Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, a 500 hp bohemoth weighing 16.5 tons. The HEL MD is in Phase II of development, after the laser itself (the High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD)) was created and tested in the initial phase.
The HEL TD is a self-contained system with unlimited ammo, so long as the electricity doesn't run out, and fires at targets with a speed of 186,000 miles a second. It works using a beam director, positioned on top of the truck, that will aim and fire the 10kw (soon to be 100kw) laser upon its target. It has the proven ability to acquire, track and target moving projectiles such as rockets, artillery fire and mortar rounds, giving this excellent defensive capabilities.
"The Boeing HEL MD program is applying the best of solid-state laser technology to ensure the Army has speed-of-light capability to defend against rockets, artillery, mortars, and unmanned aerial threats -- both today and into the future," said Mike Rinn, Boeing Directed Energy Systems vice president and program director. "High power testing represents a critical step forward for this innovative directed energy system."
Phase 2 is predicted to continue for another 3 years, to be reviewed for military use by the Army in 2018. If approved, this along with the 50 billion watt lightning gun could mean a rather scary new frontier of war.