US army to test largest ever laser weapon the size of shipping container

US army to test largest ever laser weapon the size of shipping container
Defensive weapon would be carried on back of heavy truck to shoot down incoming threats

The US army is planning to test its most powerful ever laser weapon next year, which would have enough strength to shoot down hostile missiles or aircraft.

The 300-kilowatt weapon built jointly by General Atomics Electromagnetic Sytems and Boeing is the size of a shipping container and is mounted on the back of a heavy truck.

The new laser is part of a US army project to develop defensive laser weapons that can shoot down incoming threats, which also include large drones and helicopters.

The US navy first installed a 30 kilowatt laser weapon aboard the USS Ponce in 2014, with most other military ones being between 30 and 100 kilowatts.

These previous weapons have been useful for bringing down threats such as small drones.

“The high power, compact laser weapon subsystem prototype that GA-EMS will deliver under this contract will produce a lethal output greater than anything fielded to date,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS.

“This technology represents a leap-ahead capability for air and missile defense that is necessary to support the Army’s modernisation efforts and defeat next-generation threats in a multi-domain battlespace.”

Aerospace company Boeing will provide the weapon’s beam director and precision acquisition, tracking and pointing software.

Previous weapons have used multiple industrial fibre lasers with the output turned into a single beam, says New Scientist.

But the new weapon will use large slabs of glass connected in a series.

“We’re excited to take the next step in delivering this critical capability to the Army,” said Cindy Gruensfelder, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Missile and Weapon Systems division.

“Our joint offering will leverage proven, deployed technologies to provide an industry-leading solution on an accelerated timeline.”