High-energy laser destroys large-caliber rocket in
As the scope of battlefield threats
continues to expand, so does the versatility of a high-energy laser
system to defeat them. The U.S. Army's Mobile Tactical High
Energy Laser (MTHEL) testbed destroyed a rocket on May 4 that's
larger, faster and that flies higher than previous threats
destroyed by the laser weapon demonstrator. Northrop Grumman
Corporation built the demonstrator for the Army and the Israel
Ministry of Defence (IMoD).
Tuesday's successful intercept and destruction of the
large-caliber rocket carrying a live warhead took place at 12:45
p.m. MDT during a live-fire test of the MTHEL testbed at the Army's
White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
The large-caliber rocket is capable of twice the range, achieves
more than three times the altitude, and carries a much larger
warhead than previous targets. Many countries already possess
large-caliber rockets. The destroyed rocket is representative
of threats faced by U.S. and Israeli forces.
"The destruction of a new threat type once again demonstrates
the capability of the MTHEL testbed," said Wes Bush, president of
Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "We are excited
about the historic accomplishments and we are fully prepared to
move to the next stage of building the MTHEL prototype."
The rocket shot down is faster and has more mass than Katyusha
rockets the MTHEL testbed has destroyed since testing began in
A more compact, mobile and easily transportable THEL, the MTHEL
prototype will give the Army its first deployable laser weapon
system. Northrop Grumman began work on the existing testbed
in 1996 when it was called the THEL/Advanced Concept Technology
MTHEL will be the first tactical and mobile, directed-energy
weapon capable of shooting down rockets and other tactical targets
in flight to protect deployed forces and civilians of the U.S. and
its friends and allies.
The existing MTHEL testbed was designed, developed and produced
by a Northrop Grumman-led team of U.S. and Israeli contractors for
the U.S. Space & Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala., and
for IMoD. In addition to Northrop Grumman's Space Technology and
Mission Systems sectors, U.S. companies involved in testbed
development are Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colo., and Brashear LP,
Pittsburgh, Pa. Israeli companies that supported THEL ACTD
development are Electro-Optic Industries, Ltd., Rehovat; Israel
Aircraft Industries, Ltd., Yehud Industrial Zone; RAFAEL, Haifa;
and Tadiran, Holon.
In testing to date, the MTHEL testbed has destroyed 28 Katyusha
rockets and five artillery shells in flight.