Military uses of lasers include applications such as target designation and ranging, defensive countermeasures, communications and directed energy weapons. Directed energy weapons are being developed, such as Boeing’s Airborne Laser which was constructed inside a Boeing 747. Designated the YAL-1, it is intended to kill short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their boost phase. Continue reading to see more.

3. LaWS

The Laser Weapon System or LaWS is a directed-energy weapon developed by the United States Navy. The weapon is to be installed on the USS Ponce for field testing in late 2013 or early 2014. The intended use of the LaWS is ship-defense against drones or small-boat attackers (whether suicidal or not); the LaWS at present is not designed to engage incoming missiles, large aircraft, ships, or submerged objects. LaWS utilizes a solid-state infrared beam which can be tuned to high output to destroy the target or low output to warn or cripple the sensors of a target.

2. Boeing YAL-1

The Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser Testbed, (formerly Airborne Laser) weapons system is a megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) mounted inside a modified Boeing 747-400F. The ABL was designed for use against tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs). These have a shorter range and fly more slowly than ICBMs. The MDA has recently suggested the ABL might be used against ICBMs during their boost phase. This could require much longer flights to get in position, and might not be possible without flying over hostile territory. Liquid-fueled ICBMs, which have thinner skins, and remain in boost phase longer than TBMs, might be easier to destroy.

1. Boeing Laser Avenger

Boeing Laser Avenger is an infrared laser system (with power levels somewhere in the tens of kilowatts range) mounted on an AN/TWQ-1 Avenger combat vehicle developed by Boeing Combat Systems in Huntsville, Alabama. Laser Avenger integrates a directed energy weapon together with the kinetic weapons of the Avenger air defense system. Boeing successfully tested a 1 kW solid state laser weapon mounted on a converted Avenger anti aircraft vehicle in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. The laser successfully destroyed several unexploded mortar shells from a safe distance and was also able to destroy two unmanned aerial vehicles (which were on the ground).