The U.S. Military has announced that it successfully hit unmanned targets via a powerful new laser weapons system, which for the first time was mounted on an Apache AH-64 attack helicopter.
This was the first time a fully integrated laser beam system successfully shot a target from a rotary-wing aircraft.
The test was recently conducted by elite weapons defense contractor Raytheon alongside the U.S. Army Apache Program Management Office and the U.S. Special Operations Command at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
Art Morrish, vice president of Advanced Concepts and Technologies for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, said that the intention of the laser tests was to expedite the use of futuristic technologies in the military.
“Our goal is to pull the future forward,” he said. “This data collection shows we’re on the right track.”
The Navy tested a 30-kilowatt laser on board an amphibious transport dock ship in 2014, and after thorough testing it was authorized for defensive use.
Lasers have a wide array of tactical upsides that are currently being reviewed by multiple branches of the military.
For one, lasers are not only silent but invisible to the human eye, and thus hard to detect by the enemy.
Lasers also have a nearly perfect trajectory, which shoots in a straight line, unlike the arc of an artillery round. This allows the laser to be much more accurate in finding its target.
The power of the laser beam can be adjusted to deal with a variety of different materials, from hard steel to non-lethal options for human target engagement.
So far, lasers have taken out cruise missiles, mortars, unmanned aerial drones and pierced a litany of different materials during testing.