Raytheon Company and the U.S. Army Apache Program Management Office, in collaboration with a U.S. Special Operations Command program, have flight-tested a high energy laser system onboard an AH-64 Apache, according to a company news release. The test flight, at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, marks the first time that a helicopter used a fully integrated laser system to successfully fire on a target. The testing took covered a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes and air speeds, according to Raytheon.
“This data collection shows we’re on the right track. By combining combat proven sensors, like the MTS, with multiple laser technologies, we can bring this capability to the battlefield sooner rather than later.”
The company says the test “achieved all primary and secondary goals, providing solid experimental evidence for the feasibility of high resolution, multi-band targeting sensor performance and beam propagation supportive of High Energy Laser capability for the rotary-wing attack mission.” Data collected on the impact of vibration, dust, and rotor downwash on the laser system will help in the design of future HEL systems, according to the company, which said the system performed as expected.
In the test, a variant of Raytheon’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System, an advanced electro-optical infrared sensor, provided targeting information, situational awareness and beam control for the laser.
“Our goal is to pull the future forward,” said Art Morrish, vice president of Advanced Concept and Technologies for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. “This data collection shows we’re on the right track. By combining combat proven sensors, like the MTS, with multiple laser technologies, we can bring this capability to the battlefield sooner rather than later.”