Laser Avenger shows counter-IED capabilities

Published 16 October 2007

Boeing adds laser capabilities to its Avenger system, and demonstrates its effectiveness against IEDs and UXOs

The search for effective anti-IED systems continues. Boeing [NYSE: BA] has just announced that it has successfully demonstrated that its Avenger mounted laser system which can neutralize the kinds of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnance (UXO) which kill and maim U.S. troops deployed in war zones. During a two-day laser firings test on 26-27 September at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, the Laser Avenger engaged and destroyed five targets representing IED and UXO threats. The Avenger is equipped with a one-kilowatt solid-state laser, and the company says that the tests showed that the system has enough of a range to allow it to be operated at safe distances from the target. Additional aspect of the two-day test: The system proved effective as a counter-UAV weapon, destroying two small UAVs (we should qualify here: During the demonstration, the two UAVs were stationary on the ground).

The company hopes that the the system’s performance would show that directed energy weapons (DEW) are relevant to today’s battlefield and are ready to be fielded. Note that Boeing funded the development of the system, and took only eight months to develop it. Laser Avenger also is the latest in a series of Boeing upgrades to expand the Avenger air defense system into an Agile Multi-Role Weapon System (AMWS) with ground-to-ground as well as ground-to-air capability. The laser was added while retaining Avenger’s ability to carry other weapons, including missiles and a machine gun. By building upon the Avenger, of which more than 600 are depolyed, the company says that the Laser Avenger will take advantage of an existing global logistics network.