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Remember those Saturday morning cartoons from when you were a kid, where futuristic soldiers battled with laser guns? Well if you were wondering what ever happened to that future we were promised, it's here. Boeing's Direct Energy Systems project recently concluded a test in the New Mexico desert where the Humvee-mounted Laser Avenger system successfully shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a demonstration for U.S. Army officers.

The Laser Avenger was initially created to dispose of unexploded ordinance (bombs that didn't detonate) lying on the ground, but given the proliferation of UAVs for both surveillance and weapons deployment, Boeing adapted the lasers to shoot the UAVs out of the sky. The benefit over shooting down the drones with guns or missiles – in startling contradiction to the red lines depicted in the old G.I. Joe cartoons – is that the enemy can't see where the laser beam is coming from, thereby keeping the ground troops' position secure. Pretty awesome, unless you're a UAV. Fortunately UAVs are unmanned by definition, so what we're looking at here is lasers shooting down flying robots. You can check out the details in the press release after the jump if you'd like, but we're going to sit right here in our pajamas until the next commercial.

[Source: Boeing via NextAutos] PRESS RELEASE

Boeing Laser Avenger Shoots Down Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in Tests

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Jan. 26, 2009 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has successfully demonstrated that a laser system mounted on an Avenger combat vehicle can shoot down a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) like those that increasingly threaten U.S. troops deployed in war zones.

During tests last month at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., Laser Avenger achieved its principal test objectives by using its advanced targeting system to acquire and track three small UAVs flying against a complex background of mountains and desert. The laser system also shot down one of the UAVs from an operationally relevant range. These tests mark the first time a combat vehicle has used a laser to shoot down a UAV.

Representatives of the U.S. Army's Cruise Missile Defense Systems project office observed the tests.

"Small UAVs armed with explosives or equipped with surveillance sensors are a growing threat on the battlefield," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems. "Laser Avenger, unlike a conventional weapon, can fire its laser beam without creating missile exhaust or gun flashes that would reveal its position. As a result, Laser Avenger can neutralize these UAV threats while keeping our troops safe."

The tests follow a 2007 demonstration in which an earlier version of Laser Avenger neutralized improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnance (UXO) on the ground.

"We doubled the laser power; added sophisticated acquisition, tracking and pointing capability; and simplified and ruggedized the design," said Lee Gutheinz, Boeing program director for High-Energy Laser/Electro-Optical Systems. "Boeing developed and integrated these upgrades in less than a year, underscoring our ability to rapidly respond to warfighters' needs."

Laser Avenger integrates a directed energy weapon together with the kinetic weapons on the proven Avenger air defense system developed by Boeing Combat Systems in Huntsville, Ala. It is a Boeing-funded initiative to demonstrate that directed energy weapons are maturing and are relevant to today's battlefield.

Boeing leads the way in developing laser systems for a variety of U.S. Air Force and Army warfighter applications. These systems include the Airborne Laser, the Advanced Tactical Laser, the High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator and the Tactical Relay Mirror System.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32.1 billion business with 71,000 employees worldwide.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      How do we know this wasn't a demonstration like in Sgt. Bilko? :D
      • 6 Years Ago
      Lasers shooting down (man-assisted) robots.

      We've come a long way since the 80's GI Joe...
      • 6 Years Ago
      They need to make it waterproof and mountable on frikkin' sharks.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Frickin' laser beams, awesome!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Which of our enemies actually has UAVs?
      • 6 Years Ago
      That is one insanely awesome weapon.

      I know someone who's brother has been working on laser weapons for about 15 years, and from I was told, weapons like this are very inefficient. I wonder how many times this thing can shoot and at what rate.

      Nonetheless, this is one step forward in ass kicking.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Berto: The Corvette started out with a 2 speed transmission. Have you heard of their latest model? its called the ZR1. Ford once made a car called the Model-T, they also eventually made a car the Ford-GT. The Wright brothers' first flight stayed aloft for approx. 1 minute. Ever seen a photo of the original computer mouse? It was a 6" x 6" wooden box with a metal wheel for tracking.

        For the rest of you whining about how F--KED up the government is, remember that they squandered your tax dollars on said mouse, the microwave oven, the internet, and GPS systems. Their latest crack-pot scheme, is cars that can navigate and drive themselves. Such idiots.
      • 6 Years Ago
      How long before UAV's can spot and destroy these vehicules, using lasers too?
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is soo C&C generals..
        • 6 Years Ago
        Beat me to it. I just finished a game of Zero Hour too, and then saw this...
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ LoneWolf - That is to say it hasn't been developed already! ;)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Now we just need to develop the Aurora Alpha :D
      • 6 Years Ago
      I know a few friends in military R&D for some defense companies. Some of the gear in the pipelines would blow your mind...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Skynet must be stopped before it's too late...
      • 6 Years Ago
      they have these in Red Alert...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Death from below!!!

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