Antimissile Laser Downs Large-Caliber Rocket
Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., has announced that the Mobile Tactical High-Energy Laser test bed was successful in destroying the largest, fastest rocket it has ever engaged in a live-fire test at the US Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. In its demonstrations to date, the antimissile laser has destroyed artillery shells and smaller, short-range Katyusha rockets, singly as well as in pairs.
The test confirms the flexibility of the system to address various tactical situations. The laser is designed to intercept a variety of short-range threats such as cruise missiles, rockets and mortar rounds. The 6-in.-diameter, 11-foot-long rocket in this instance has twice the range, is capable of three times the altitude and carries a larger payload than the Katyusha, which is favored by Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon.
The megawatt-class deuterium-fluoride laser system is an updated version of the Tactical High-Energy Laser/Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator, which was an outgrowth of the Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser designed for the US Navy. Under the current contract with the US Space & Missile Defense Command and the Israeli Ministry of Defence, the Northrop Grumman-led team of US and Israeli companies on the project hopes to deliver a deployable system by 2007.
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