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MDA High Altitude Long Endurance UAS Could Stop Enemy Ballistic Missiles in Boost Phase

Taepodong-2 ballistic missile launch.

Taepodong-2 ballistic missile launch.

September 11, 2017 | Source: Defense Systems, defensesystems.com, 19 June 2017, Katherine Owens

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is seeking a new high altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle with the unique capacity to carry a high energy laser system that can stop enemy missiles when they have barely left the launch pad, according to a new MDA request for information.

“Our vision is to shift the calculus of our potential adversaries by introducing these systems into the ballistic missile defense system,” said Chris Johnson, a spokesman for the MDA. “This could revolutionize missile defense, dramatically reducing the role of kinetic interceptors.”

As yet, no HALE unmanned aircraft have the capacity to field a high energy laser system. For the new UAV, the MDA is looking for the next generation of laser technology to build upon the Low Power Laser Demonstrator (LPLD) and firmly establish a U.S. capacity to defeat enemy ballistic missiles in their Boost Phase.