US Started Testing Apache Helicopters with Mounted Laser Beams

US Started Testing Apache Helicopters with Mounted Laser Beams

For the first time in history, people have successfully used a laser gun on Apache helicopter. The helicopter managed to acquire the laser gun and use it to hit an unmanned target.

The gun was mounted on a model called Apache AH-64 attack helicopter, and through the use of a high-energy laser, it tracked a stationary target that was posted almost a mile away. With this simple act, one of the most iconic Sci-Fi weapons has become a reality.

This might sound easy, but experts and weapons manufacturers have struggled with doing something like this for a very long time. There were way too many variables that researchers needed to take into consideration while creating this sort of gun. Altitude, air speeds, and a fully integrated laser system that was supposed to precisely shoot its target from an aircraft with a rotary-wing over an array of flight regimes were only some of them.

However, researchers and gun makers finally managed to make it work thanks to combining a laser and a MTS (Muti-Spectral Targeting System). In fact, this is the system that provides information about the target, controls the beam, and needs to provide a constant situational awareness as well.

Art Morrish, who is Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems’ vice president of advanced concepts and technologies, has said that the most important part of this test was collecting data. Calculating things like dust, an impact of vibration, as well as rotor downwash are needed to be accounted for in order to improve the systems and make the next model even better and more precise.

The main goal, according to Morrish, was to ‘pull the future forward’. Thanks to this data, as well as results of the experiment, he is now convinced that humanity is successfully going towards that goal.

Pentagon seems to agree with Morrish, and they also believe that laser weapons will bring great advantage in a practical use. This is mostly due to their invisibility to the naked eye, as well as the fact that they are silent and stealthy. Additionally, their trajectory is almost perfect, which will make them that more effective, while the enemies will have difficulties when it comes to detecting an attack.

Laser gun technology is pretty much more effective than any other weapon currently in use, which includes rockets, mortar, artillery, RAM threats, and more.

Apache helicopters, that the US army is using since 1986, have been using weapons like 70-millimeter rockets, 30-millimeter guns, as well as heavy-duty AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

The advantages of lasers are that they won’t run out of bullets, which would be more effective, as well as more economical.

This test was organized and conducted by US Army Apache Program Management Office and Raytheon, in collaboration with US Special Operations Command at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.