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DARPA to test out new airborne laser weapon


A sophisticated new laser defence system could soon be making its way on to drones and fighter jets.
Known as the High-Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS), the new weapon has been in development for over a decade and wouldn’t look out of place on the Millennium Falcon.

Headed up by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the project’s aim was to build a powerful, compact laser that could be used to defend aircraft during missions.

“The technical hurdles were daunting, but it is extremely gratifying to have produced a new type of solid-state laser with unprecedented power and beam quality for its size,” said DARPA’s Rich Bagnell.

One possible application for the system will be to mount it on the GA-ASI’s new Avenger drone which uses a jet engine that can recharge the laser’s battery in-flight thus enabling it to fire indefinitely.

“Enemy surface-to-air threats to manned and unmanned aircraft have become increasingly sophisticated,” DARPA wrote on its website. “High power lasers can provide a solution to this challenge, as they harness the speed and power of light to counter multiple threats.”

Testing of the new laser system is scheduled to begin in the summer.