The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has announced successfully completing a major program milestone April 23, 2019 with the successful surrogate laser weapon system shoot-down of multiple air-launched missiles in flight.
According to the recent statement by AFRL, the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Program downed the missiles using a ground-based laser demonstrator.
The SHiELD program is developing a directed energy laser system on an aircraft pod that will serve to demonstrate self-defense of aircraft against surface-to-air (SAM) and air-to-air (AAM) missiles.
“This critical demonstration shows that our directed energy systems are on track to be a game changer for our warfighters,” said Dr. Kelly Hammett, director of AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate.
During the series of tests at the High Energy Laser System Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range, NM, the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS) (Figure 1), acting as a ground-based test surrogate for the SHiELD system, was able to engage and shoot down several air launched missiles in flight. The demonstration is an important step of the SHiELD system development by validating laser effectiveness against the target missiles. The final SHiELD system, however, will be much smaller and lighter, as well as ruggedized for an airborne environment.