Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN) successfully tested a prototype Laser Area Defense System (LADS) combining the Phalanx radar guided gun system with a powerful solid-state laser weapon to defeat rockets, mortars and missiles at a combat significant range. During three tests performed in the past 6 months, the prototype system successfully detonated 60-millimeter mortar bombs at a range greater than 550 yards.
The LADS demonstration used a proven, existing, off-the-shelf solid-state laser, coupled with commercially available optics technology. The goal of the demonstration was to rapidly prove that lasers can yield military utility now by demonstrating that such a system could protect warfighters against mortars. Secondary goals of the demonstration were to offer a near-term alternative to chemical lasers, which may create logistics challenges for the warfighter, and to prove that existing optical and targeting components can significantly lower total laser system costs and speed their ultimate transition to the warfighter.
Solid-state laser technology makes LADS safe to the environment, does away with the need for caustic chemicals and radically reduces the life-cycle cost. LADS is highly mobile and has the operational capability to simultaneously engage multiple targets at tactically relevant ranges. The laser system is powered by a commercially available generator or grid electricity and provides an extremely inexpensive, almost infinite magazine for countering mortar and rocket threats.
“Our solid-state LADS proves you don’t have to wait another three to five years for solid-state lasers to have military utility on the battlefield. They are ready now, with no chemicals required.” Says Mike Booen, vice president of Advanced Missile Defense and Directed Energy Weapons at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz.