Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Raytheon Co. announced the delivery, to the U.S. Air Force, of the first high-energy laser system to counter drone threats.
The system will be tested in a year-long overseas deployment, the company said on Tuesday.
Raytheon received a $23.8 million contract in August to build two high-energy laser systems, as well as a $16 million contract for a microwave counter-drone system known as the Phaser.
The laser uses a variant of Raytheon's Multi-Spectral Targeting System and an electro-optical/infrared sensor to detect and track drones before engaging and neutralizing the threat. The HELWS, or High Energy Laser Weapons System, then can shoot down a drone.
For testing and display purposes it was installed on an all-terrain vehicle to demonstrate its maneuverability, similar to a system under testing by the U.S. Army.
The HELWS can deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and dozens of precise laser shots on a single charge from a standard 220-volt outlet, and can also be paired with a generator to provide a nearly infinite number of shots, Raytheon said in a statement.
"Five years ago, few people worried about the drone threat," said Roy Azevedo of Raytheon. "Now, we hear about attacks or incursions all the time. Our customers saw this coming and asked us to develop a ready-now counter-UAS [unmanned aerial systems] capability. We did just that by going from the drawing board to delivery in less than 24 months."