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  • Laser Demo Downs Rocket Over Desert
May 2004
REDONDO BEACH, Calif., May 7 -- The US Army's mobile tactical high-energy laser (MTHEL) testbed destroyed its largest rocket to date in a demonstration held Tuesday at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Northrop Grumman Corp. built the demonstrator for the Army and the Israel Ministry of Defence (IMoD).
A large-caliber rocket carrying a live warhead was intercepted and destroyed during the live-fire test. The rocket used is faster and has more mass than the Katyusha rockets that have been used since testing began in 2000.

The MTHEL prototype will give the Army its first deployable laser weapon system. Northrop Grumman began work on the existing testbed in 1996, when it was called the THEL/advanced concept technology demonstrator (ACTD). The company said MTHEL will be the first tactical and mobile, directed-energy weapon capable of shooting down rockets and other tactical targets in flight "to protect deployed forces and civilians of the US and its friends and allies."

The existing MTHEL testbed was designed, developed and produced by a Northrop Grumman-led team of US and Israeli contractors for the US Space & Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala., and for IMoD. In addition to Northrop Grumman's Space Technology and Mission Systems sectors, US companies involved in testbed development are Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colo. and Brashear LP, of Pittsburgh, Pa. Israeli companies that supported THEL ACTD development are Electro-Optic Industries Ltd., Rehovat; Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd., Yehud Industrial Zone; RAFAEL, Haifa; and Tadiran, Holon.

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