The US army has successfully hit an unmanned target using a high-powered laser mounted on a Apache AH-64 helicopter.
The demonstration was the first time a fully integrated laser system has successfully fired on a target from a rotary-wing aircraft, according to defence company Raytheon who manufactured the device.
The weapon is almost silent and invisible which makes it particularly hard for enemies to detect and could be used on the battlefield in the near future.
The laser, which was tested at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico successfully hit a target 0.9 miles (1.4 km) away.
The demonstration was the first time a laser was ‘fired on a target from a rotary-wing aircraft over a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes and air speeds,’ the company said.
The laser was manufactured by Raytheon who said their device ‘provides long-range surveillance, target acquisition, tracking, range finding and laser designation’.
Laser systems have been on the Apache since 1984 when it first entered service.
However, they were low-powered and could only guide air-to-ground missiles.
These lasers are particularly accurate because unlike bullets and artillery which fire in an arch, they fire in straight lines and are powerful enough to destroy targets.
The company used an electro-optical intrared sensor – which is a version of the Multi-Spectral Targeting System.
‘By combining combat proven sensors, like the MTS [Multi-Spectral Targeting System], with multiple laser technologies, we can bring this capability to the battlefield sooner rather than later’, said Art Morrish, vice president of Advanced Concept and Technologies for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems.
According to Matthew Ketner, branch chief of the High Energy Laser Controls and Integration Directorate, the power of the laser beam can be adjusted for any material – there is even a non-lethal adjustment for human targets.
Mr Katner said lasers have taken out cruise missiles, mortars and other projectiles during testing.
‘Unlike a traditional gun lasers don’t run out of bullets’, he said.
However, they do use a lot of energy and are unable to penetrate haze, smoke and materials with anti-laser coatings.
The US military is increasingly looking into laser weapons and there has been a 30-kilowatt laser on the USS Ponce – an amphibious transport dock ship – since 2014.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/