Electronic Design

Army's Laser Passes Live Rocket Test

The missile was launched. The warhead was live. The threat was greater than any other the team had ever faced. But the MTHEL's laser successfully shot the missile down—and we're not talking about the climax of the latest big-budget sci-fi movie.

Developed by Northrop Grumman, the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser is the first mobile, directed-energy weapon that can shoot down rockets and other tactical targets in flight. The U.S. Army has been testing the system at its White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico since 2000. So far, it has shot down 28 Katyusha rockets and five artillery shells. But this spring, it was time to take on a more dangerous target. So the Army prepared a large-caliber rocket that's much faster than the Katyushas, with twice the range, three times the altitude, and a much larger warhead. It resembled the kinds of rockets that hostile forces could use against the U.S. and her allies. The MTHEL successfully destroyed it.

"The destruction of a new threat type once again demonstrates the capability of the MTHEL testbed," says Wes Bush, president of Northrop Grumman's space technology sector.

For details, go to www.northropgrumman.com.

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