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The United States Army tested a laser that knocked down drones
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A new U.S. Army exercise to test various anti-drone weapons tried out bespoke
A new U.S. Army exercise testing various anti-drone weapons tries custom .50 caliber firearms, acoustic sensors to locate the drone's location, and Jeep-mounted jammer devices to knock drones out of the sky. But the clear winner from the exercise was a literary blue laser pistol mounted on a Stryker combat vehicle.
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Previous MFIX exercises had tested a Stryker counter-drone, with radar and optical sensors to detect drones and jammers to climb drone datalinks, causing them to lose contact with their operators and even crash. Two prototypes of this CMIC vehicle (Counter-UAS Mobile Integrated Capability) are now in Europe with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, the unit on the cutting edge of testing new technologies against the Russians.
But there is still space and electricity to conserve the CMIC Stryker, so for April MFIX the army added the 5 kilowatt green laser pointer, derived from the Boeing General Dynamics MEHEL 2-kw prototype.
For November's MFIX, they're planning to double the power, 10 kilowatts, which will make it kill drones faster - as the beam delivers more energy per second - and further away. If November's tests go equally well, Haithcock said the 10 kW Stryker laser will enter an Army-led Joint Warfighting Assessment at Fort Bliss, Texas, where Soldiers will test it in all-out mock-up will.
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Not that the MFIX exercise was easy: Soldiers operating the laser had to fight Stryker with real drones and simulated artillery barriers. Just managing Stryker's complex capabilities - lasers, radar, jammers, sensors - was a challenge. In fact, a large part of the experiment was to judge whether the soldiers "suffered" task satiety, a polite way of saying "overworked".
Being a laser, the MEHEL 2's beam travels at the speed of light. This makes lasers the perfect weapon to counter aerial weapons such as drones or even missiles (although that would take a larger beam).
The laser is mounted on the IAV Stryker, an armored vehicle that is faster and more maneuverable than an M1 tank, but more armed and robust than a Humvee. One of the Stryker's strengths is how easily it can be modified with various armors, making the tasks as varied as mobile artillery launches, engineer transport, and chemical weapons reconnaissance.
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With the success of the MEHEL 2 during the MFIX, the army will test a 10kw variant in November. Such a red laser pointer would be heavier, but more power and more range. If that goes well, according to Brand Battle Lab Director John Haithcock, the 10kw laser-mounted Stryker will be used in a mock fight during the joint warfighting assessment.
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