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Raytheon Successfully Tests New Solid-State Laser Area Defense System

Category: Defence Industry

Raytheon Company successfully tested a prototype solid-state laser weapon that combines the proven capabilities of the Phalanx weapon system with the power and effectiveness of lasers to defeat rockets, mortars and missiles at an operationally significant range.

The prototype solid-state Laser Area Defense System (LADS) successfully detonated 60-millimeter mortars at a range greater than 550 yards within the tactical timeline in static ground testing conducted in partnership with the United States government. This government-industry team accomplished these groundbreaking prototype tests in less than six months.

The LADS demonstration used a proven, existing, off-the-shelf solid-state laser, coupled with commercially available optics technology. The goal of the demonstration was to rapidly prove that lasers can yield military utility now by demonstrating that such a system could protect warfighters against mortars. Secondary goals of the demonstration were to offer a near-term alternative to chemical lasers, which may create logistics challenges for the warfighter, and to prove that existing optical and targeting components can significantly lower total laser system costs and speed their ultimate transition to the warfighter.

Solid-state laser technology makes LADS safe to the environment, does away with the need for caustic chemicals and radically reduces the life-cycle cost. LADS is highly mobile and has the operational capability to simultaneously engage multiple targets at tactically relevant ranges. The laser system is powered by a commercially available generator or grid electricity and provides an extremely inexpensive, almost infinite magazine for countering mortar and rocket threats.

"In just six short months, Raytheon and government engineers went from an idea to operational field testing of a solid-state laser system that offers the potential of near-term protection for our troops," said Mike Booen, vice president of Advanced Missile Defense and Directed Energy Weapons at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz. "Our solid-state LADS proves you don't have to wait another three to five years for solid-state lasers to have military utility on the battlefield. They are ready now, with no chemicals required."

LADS builds on the Phalanx weapon system to provide fast and precise search, track and engage capabilities for directing the laser energy on target. The next logical step for LADS is dynamic field testing in 2007. Raytheon has produced more than 900 Phalanx systems that fire 20-millimeter armor piercing rounds for 24 nations.

Raytheon Company, with 2005 sales of $21.9 billion, is an industry leader in defense and government electronics, space, information technology, technical services, and business and special mission aircraft. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 80,000 people worldwide.

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