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Boeing Laser Avenger Shoots Down Incoming Enemy for the First Time

Illustration for article titled Boeing Laser Avenger Shoots Down Incoming Enemy for the First Time

Boeing has shot down an incoming unmanned aerial vehicle using their new Laser Avenger system, which you can see in the picture. According to Boeing's VP for Directed Energy Systems, this is crucial:

Small UAVs armed with explosives or equipped with surveillance sensors are a growing threat on the battlefield. Laser Avenger, unlike a conventional weapon, can fire its laser beam without creating missile exhaust or gun flashes that would reveal its position. As a result, Laser Avenger can neutralize these UAV threats while keeping our troops safe.

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The Laser Avenger is mounted on the kinetic-based Avenger air defense system. However, no kinetic weapons were used in taking down the UAV. Tested at the White Sands Missile Range- a 3,200-square-mile rocket range in New Mexico, the largest military installation in the US-the Laser Avenger tracked three UAVs flying "against a complex background of mountains and desert", shooting down one of the UAVs.

The test success comes after the company doubled the laser power and added acquisition and tracking capabilities to the original design. Star Wars, here we go. [Via Press Release]

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DISCUSSION

So... how far does the beam travel? Do they need to be concerned about other things sharing the same vector, you know, like sattelites in space? or the space shuttle? or one of those Virgin Galactic flights?

"Thank you for flying Virgin Galactic. We're pleased to offer our in-flight beverage ser-" ZZZZZORT!

"Update: Thank you for flying Virgin Galactic. Our rapid descent to earth is courtesy of the test range folks wo forgot to check the flight patterns for other items that happen to be in the sky"

Yes, I know very little about lasers, but someone set me straight here... effective range on a laser of this type means hoow much potential residual energy beyond the focal point of the energy beam?