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Apache test fires a laser beam

written by Paul Sadler | June 27, 2017

Raytheon's grey-coloured laser system hangs from the outer pylon of the Apache’s left stub wing. (Raytheon)
Raytheon’s grey-coloured laser system hangs from the outer pylon of the Apache’s left stub wing. (Raytheon)

A high energy laser system mounted under the stub wing of a US Army AH-64E Apache has successfully acquired and hit a target during tests of the directed-energy weapon at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

The laser firing, conducted by Raytheon with the US Army Apache Program Management Office and the US Special Operations Command in mid-June, was the first time a fully integrated laser system successfully shot a target from helicopter, which Raytheon says proves the feasibility of a laser attack from the Apache.

For the tests, Raytheon coupled the laser system to a variant of its Multi-spectral Targeting System (MTS) sensor to provide targeting information, situational awareness and beam control.

The laser system tracked and directed energy on a stationary target at a line-of-sight range of 1,400m while the Apache was flying at a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes and airspeeds.

Data collected from the tests, including the impact of vibration, dust and rotor downwash from the Apache’s main and tail rotor blades, will help Raytheon develop future high-energy laser systems.


“This data collection shows we are on the right track,” said Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems vice president of Advanced Concepts and Technologies Art Morrish. “By combining combat proven sensors, like the MTS sensor, with multiple laser technologies, we can bring this capability to the battlefield sooner rather than later.”

While in an early experimental phase, should a laser attack system be integrated into an Apache’s weapons suite, a laser strike could prove to be more accurate and effective, while being much cheaper, than firing a Hellfire missile at a target.

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Comments (7)

  • Jason


    wow when you consider a decade or so ago they were planning on having these devices in 747s because of the size. Obviously the ABL was a bigger laser but wow.

  • Lechuga


    Honestly, if these make it into service, they won’t last long. I love the idea, but it’s like the flame thrower. There’ll be groups against it to have it banned.

  • Paul


    And we bought the tiger!!Hhhhhmmmmm

  • PAUL


    Starwars is here…

  • Alex


    Well it was only a matter of time before they took the sci-fi to reality.

  • James


    Is it capable of doing damage at 1.4km? All the test photos (that I have been able to find) show is that the weapon was on target not that it did any damage.

  • Murray Howlett


    How do they work on a mirrored surface?

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