A high energy laser mounted on an Apache AH-64 attack helicopter acquired and hit an unmanned target in a test.

The test was conducted by Raytheon and the US Army Apache Program Management Office at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

It was the first time a fully integrated laser system successfully shot a target from a rotary-wing aircraft over a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes and air speeds, proving the feasibility of laser attack from Apache.

According to a media release:

“The system tracked and directed energy on a stationary target at a slant range of 1.4 kilometers. (Slant range is the line-of-sight distance between two points at different levels.)

The data collected from the test, including impact of vibration, dust and rotor downwash, will help shape future high-energy laser systems.”

Art Morrish, vice president of Advanced Concepts and Technologies for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems said:

“Our goal is to pull the future forward. This data collection shows we’re on the right track.”

For the test, Raytheon coupled a variant of the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, an advanced, electro-optical, infrared sensor, with a laser. The MTS provided targeting information, situational awareness and beam control.

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