Game of Drones: The Army Is Testing Lasers to Shoot Drones Out of the Sky
Policy + Politics

Game of Drones: The Army Is Testing Lasers to Shoot Drones Out of the Sky


Aerial warfare is increasingly becoming a game of drones, with enemy combatants such as ISIS known to have bought and armed the off-the-shelf versions available online

Last January, The Washington Post reported that Islamic State fighters launched a drone that dropped a smart bomb in Iraqi Army soldiers battling to retake Mosul.

Related: The 10 Most Expensive Weapons in the Pentagon’s Arsenal

The Post said that ISIS earlier announced the establishment of a unit called “Unmanned Aircraft of the Mujahideen” and that “U.S. officials confirm that the terrorist group appears to have crossed a threshold with its use of unmanned aircraft.”

Since jihadists or other enemies equipped with more capable military-style unarmed aerial vehicles (UAVs) cannot be far behind, the Pentagon is developing systems that can shoot drones out of the sky.

One way to bring down a drone is to target it with a laser, and the Army Times reported this week that recent tests of powerful lasers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, were highly successful.

The 5kW laser built by Boeing is mounted on a General Dynamics-produced Stryker, a $5 million  armored vehicle that is usually armed with an M2 .50 caliber machine gun or an MK19 40mm grenade launcher.

The Army has already upgraded the so-called MEHEL (mobile expeditionary high energy laser) system from 2kW to 5kW and is expected to test a 10kW laser in November.

The laser gun works by striking a target with a burst of electricity and intense heat.