2017: The first soldier to destroy a drone with a laser

The US says that 2017 was the first time a soldier destroyed a UAV with a laser. It happened at Fort Sill on May 18, 2017 on a pleasant spring day. A story about the incident says that the drone came over the horizon and soldiers downed it with a laser. “Sounds like something from a galaxy far, far away, when in fact a Soldier, for the first time, shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle with a laser during the Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment, April 3 through 13 at Fort Sill.”

The US military says Spc. Brandon Sallaway, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery, part of 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division was the one who carried it out. They were using the Mobile Expeditionary High Energy Laser (MEHEL) a 5 kilowatt laser which was apparently classified prior to this use. It was relatively easy to operate using a console similar to a video game. Using electro-optics and radar the man in the box on the vehicle can find the drone and then lock on and kill it. The drone is destroyed in ten seconds or so. Space and Missile Defense Command was chuffed apparently. The MEHEL had been used by contractors previously with a 2-kilowatt weapon.

Now it needs multi-mission capability the experts say. Fire support, lasers and all sorts of new things could be added on. Acronyms are needed, so we now have he MFIX MEHEL and the UAS Mobile Integrated Capabilities System (CMIC). The laser can be put on a Stryker. It would have common software and architecture. The report quotes Adam Aberle, with U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command “who oversees all of the Army’s laser technology development.” The system needs to be easy to use and the Americans are listening to feedback. “One day we want this capability to transition into the hands of the warfighter,” said Aberle.

Eventually the machine might have a 10-kilowatt laser and more redundancy for GPS and other equipment. But they don’t want to have a whole new training speciality for this. Only several days of training were need to learn how to use the system and hit drones at 600 meters. These were small drones. Read the full story here.

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