Defence contractors TRW, The US Army Space and Missile Command and the Israel Ministry of Defence has pushed the frontiers of defence forward after successfully testing the Tactical High Energy Laser/Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator (THEL/ACTD).
The THEL/ACTD was tested to repeatedly detect, track, engage and destroy salvos of Katyusha rockets fired in rapid succession.
In a series of two-rocket salvo tests conducted on August 28 and September 22 the THEL/ACTD did twice what no other air defence system has ever been designed to do: detect, track and destroy multiple Katyushas in a single engagement.
The shooting down of two rockets was achieved less than four months after TRW (a company engaged in laser research and development since the early 1960s); SMDC and IMoD first used THEL/ACTD to destroy a single armed Katyusha in flight.
They were performed as part of an on-going program to demonstrate the THEL/ACTD’s deadliness against short-range tactical threats such as Katyusha rockets.
Engineers from TRW, the US Army and the IMoD conducted the multiple rocket tests under conditions similar to those used during the June 6 test, when THEL/ACTD successfully intercepted and destroyed a Katyusha rocket on its first attempt.
The major difference was that in these tests, the laser system detected, tracked, and destroyed two rockets in quick succession. The TRW, US Army and IMoD THEL team will use the multiple rocket test data to evaluate the system’s performance relative to its mission requirements.
‘Killing one rocket was significant, but being able to show that we can consistently kill two or more targets per engagement puts THEL/ACTD in a class by itself,’ said Lt. Gen. John Costello, Commanding General, USA-SMDC. ‘These tests are making it increasingly clear that directed energy weapon systems have the potential to provide some unique and very effective defensive options on the tactical battlefield.’
The THEL/ACTD was designed, developed and produced by a TRW-led team of US and Israeli contractors for the U.S. Army Space & Missile Defence Command, and the Israel Ministry of Defence.
Requirements for the system have been driven by Israel, who claim they need the weapon to protect civilians living in towns and communities along its northern border against rocket attacks.