Mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles need to be good at surviving encounters with mines and improvised explosive devices. What if, though, they're able to detonate an IED or mine before its explosive force can even make contact with the armored hull?
That's topic of a proposed project, which will refit 15 Cougar with freaking laser beams. Officially called the Recovery of Airbase Denied by Ordnance system, the three-kilowatt energy weapon is capable of targeting and detonating suspected explosives from nearly 1,000 feet away, Air Force Col. Jeffry Gates told Army Times. You can see the system in action in the image above.
At present, MRAP crews have to rely on the mounted .50-caliber gun to detonate mines and suspected IEDs, but that approach has its own set of problems. If a bullet can't set off the explosive, a remote-control loader moves the bomb off the road or runway until explosives ordinance disposal teams can neutralize it. The laser though, should prove significantly more reliable since it can't be deflected by the bomb's casing like a bullet can.
The new laser would also be safer for crews to operate. Popping the hatch and working the .50-cal exposes the gunner to sniper fire or shrapnel from the IED, but with the laser system, crews can operate it from the safety of the MRAP thanks to a camera system and a Sony Playstation 4-like controller, Army Times reports.
Although it's only slated to join the Air Force, the Army had a hand in testing the system's durability. According to Col. Gates, interest from other service branches should increase in time. Retrofitting the 15 Cougars should cost about $42 million, including research-and-development costs. The laser-equipped vehicles could be ready to enter service by 2017.