The Navy Wants to Mount an Anti-UAV Laser on a Hummer--A Hummer!

The Office of Naval Research has just announced another breakthrough in its efforts to bring laser-based weapons to future battlefields. What once could only be accommodated by a tractor trailer now fits neatly in the back seat of a Humvee. It's only a matter of time until our armed forces march off to war with GI Joe-style laser rifles.

Dubbed the Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move program (GBAD), these light truck-mounted laser systems work in the same manner as the HEL MD (below) but at a fraction of the cost, power, and footprint. So while the HEL MD will eventually be outputting 100 KW to shoot down cruise missiles, this 30 KW GBAD will instead target enemy UAVs.

"We can expect that our adversaries will increasingly use UAVs and our expeditionary forces must deal with that rising threat," Col. William Zamagni, acting head of ONR's Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department, said in a statement. "GBAD gives the Marine Corps a capability to counter the UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces. GBAD employed in a counter UAV role is just the beginning of its use and opens myriad other possibilities for future expeditionary forces."

The ONR is, unsurprisingly, keeping details of how they were able to shrink the components down so much, though Extremetech reports that this is accomplished partially by siphoning energy from the vehicle's drivetrain—producing 10 KW while driving and as much as 30 KW when parked with the engine idling. Idling will also supposedly charge the laser's batteries up to 80 percent from exhausted in just 20 minutes.

Initial live-fire tests against inbound UAV threats using the 10 KW model will begin later this year while the 30 KW iteration likely won't be unveiled until 2016. [ONR via Extremetech]

This Mortar-Hunting War Truck Just Got a Powerful New Laser Cannon

The Army's High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) has been under development for some years now, however until this point, it's been little more than a proof of concept. But thanks to a new upgrade to its firing system, the HEL MD can now burn most any incoming threat clean out of the sky.

Last time we heard about the HEL MD, it was sporting a 10 KW laser—hot enough to fry a UAV's electronics but not sufficient to handle more traditional threats like rockets, artillery and mortars (collectively known as RAM). That's why Boeing has quintupled its power output to 50 KW.

During a series of tests held at White Sands Missile Range earlier this month, the HEL MD successfully knocked more than 90 mortars out of the air, as well as a number of UAVs. In addition to the integrated laser and beam director mounted in the vehicle, the upgraded HEL MD utilized a separate, surrogate radar: the Enhanced Multi Mode Radar to track incoming rounds and queue up shots.

And while the current iteration is quite powerful, Boeing isn't done yet. The next version will double its current out put to a staggering 100 KW and be able to kill even cruise missiles . Pew-pew indeed. [US Army via Gizmag]