The U.S. Army and Raytheon have successfully tested a high-energy laser system mounted on a Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, according to a Raytheon statement Monday.
The test was conducted by Raytheon and the U.S. Army Apache Program Management Office in collaboration with U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
During the test, the system tracked and directed the laser on a stationary target at a slant range of 1.4 kilometers. The data collected from the test, including impact of vibration, dust and rotor downwash, will help shape future high-energy laser systems.
The test, “was the first time a fully integrated laser system successfully shot a target from a rotary-wing aircraft over a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes and air speeds, proving the feasibility of laser attack from Apache,” the company said in the statement. Raytheon also said the test achieved all primary and secondary goals that show a high-energy laser, or HEL, on an attack helicopter can provide high-resolution, multiband targeting sensor performance and beam propagation.
“Our goal is to pull the future forward,” said Art Morrish, vice president of Advanced Concepts and Technologies for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. “This data collection shows we’re on the right track.”
For the test, Raytheon coupled a variant of the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, an advanced, electro-optical, infrared sensor, with a laser. The MTS provided targeting information, situational awareness and beam control.