US Army's Dual Laser/EW System Destroys 79 Aerial Drones in Tests

By | May 09, 2017 08:14 AM EDT
Top gun

U.S. Army laser Stryker showing red "kill stickers" on its hull. (Photo : US Army)

A specially modified U.S. Army Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) armed with an air defense system combining a 5 kilowatt high-energy laser with an electronic warfare (EW) system shot down 79 aerial drones during a series of tests culminating in April at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

The surprising success of this dual air defense system -- called the Mobile High Energy Laser (MEHEL) - astounded even the experts. The tests were so successful, the crew of the "laser Stryker" attached "kill stickers" to the hull of their vehicle to show off their prowess at killing drones.

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Each kill sticker represents either a quad-copter or a remote controlled airplane shot down by the laser/EW system.

"We were skeptical at first, when we were first briefed we'd be shooting down drones with lasers," said Army Captain Theo Kleinsorge, who commanded the MEHEL Stryker.

"We achieved a success rate well beyond what we expected we'd have and we are excited to see this go to the next step of the experiment, shooting beyond the horizon, and showing this technology can solve the problem."

The laser/EW system acquired and tracked its targets with the aid of powerful cameras atop the roof of the MEHEL Stryker. The EW system shot down drones by jamming the signals from its control location. It also pinpointed the location of the drones' control station.

On the other hand, the powerful laser beam burned through the fuselage of the commercial quadcopter and hexcopter drones it targeted. Capt. Kleinsorge said his team shot down 50 aerial drones at Fort Sill.

The team shot down 29 other drones during a previous test at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico.

For each drone shot down, a kill sticker (a red "X" behind the silhouette of the destroyed drone) was attached to the side of the MEHEL Stryker. 

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