Boeing Laser Avenger destroys IEDs in test


Boeing and the US Army have successfully completed a test in which a laser system mounted on an Avenger combat vehicle destroyed 50 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) similar to those used by adversaries in war zones.


During the laser firings in September at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, a “Laser Avenger” air defence artillery system neutralised multiple types of IEDs, including large-calibre artillery munitions and smaller bomblets and mortar rounds, a Boeing statement says.


The “Laser Avenger” is a modified Boeing AN/TWQ-1 Avenger with one FIM-92 Stinger missile pod replaced with a one kilowatt laser.


The system operated at safe distances from the targets and under a variety of conditions, including different angles and ranges. Soldiers travelling with Laser Avenger would not have to get out of their armoured vehicles or wait for an explosive ordnance disposal team to destroy an IED and continue their mission.


"Improvised explosive devices continue to threaten US troops deployed in war zones, and Laser Avenger provides the ultra-precision, stand-off capability our warfighters need today to safely neutralise those threats," says Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems’ Directed Energy Systems unit.


"In addition, Laser Avenger’s versatility makes it useful in a wide range of battlefield conditions."


The US Defense Department’s Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) sponsored the test, which was conducted by Boeing and the Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space.


The test follows demonstrations this year and last in which Laser Avenger shot down a small unmanned aerial vehicle in each event, and a 2007 demonstration in which an earlier version of Laser Avenger destroyed five targets representing IEDs and unexploded ordnance.