The US Air Force UU He announced that he has successfully used a laser weapon system to shoot down several missiles during the flight. The system is designed to be eventually mounted on an aircraft to protect the vehicle from attacks.
The Air Force Research Laboratory conducted the test at the White Sands Missile Field of the US Army. UU In New Mexico in April. The system, called self-protective high-energy laser (SHiELD), was used from the ground and was used to shoot down "missiles launched from the air". The commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Major General William Cooley, says the test is a "great step forward for directed energy systems and protection against adverse threats."
. The system is designed to be eventually mounted on an aircraft, where it could be used to shoot down incoming ground-air or air-to-air missiles. It includes three main components: the laser system, a control system to point the laser and a capsule that could feed everything, which would be mounted on an airplane.
The lab highlights some of the advantages that such a system could bring to the table: it would be highly accurate and hit targets instantly, it would not have a limited magazine, it would allow pilots to aim again to hit additional targets quickly , and may not be susceptible to traditional countermeasures, such as flashes or interference devices. That said, it is likely that the system is not infallible: weather could potentially interfere with its effectiveness.
The Air Force has been working on that system for a couple of years: the project started in 2016 and the service issued a contract to Lockheed Martin in 2017 (through The Drive ) to design the system, with the objective of testing it on an airplane in 2021. As The Drive points out, it is not clear exactly where this particular test falls on the largest roadmap of technology, although previous documents they indicate a multi-phase test regime, beginning with the ground and flight tests. Now, Lockheed Martin and the Air Force Research Laboratory will have to miniaturize the technology so that it can be used effectively in airplanes.
SHiELD is not the only laser technology that is being tested by the US Army. UU., The US Army UU He tested a system mounted on an Apache AH-64 attack helicopter last summer, and the US Navy. UU He is working with Lockheed Martin on his own systems to install on warships.