In a groundbreaking achievement, the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX) successfully tested the Air Force’s first palletized high-energy laser weapon during a series of live-fire exercises at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico last fall. The deployment of this advanced laser technology marks a significant milestone in the Air Force’s ongoing efforts to counter short-range aerial threats.
Known as the “H4,” this palletized laser weapon is a 10-kilowatt laser built to U.S. military specifications and designed in a stand-alone configuration that can be rapidly moved and mounted wherever it is needed. Raytheon Technologies, a global aerospace and defense company, developed the H4 as the fourth operational laser weapon system for the Air Force, contributing to the eight total systems delivered to the U.S. Department of Defense.
During the four days of continuous live-fire exercises, the palletized laser weapon surpassed the Air Force’s Test and Assessment plan. It showcased its capability to detect, track, and destroy various drone targets in different scenarios, including short-range attacks, swarm attacks, and long-range threats. The successful outcomes of these exercises demonstrate the weapon’s efficacy in countering asymmetrical threats.
“The Air Force now has four proven laser weapons that can be deployed wherever drones pose a threat. Whether it’s on a fixed location, a flatbed, or even a pickup truck, these laser weapons are compact, rugged, and ready to go,” stated Michael Hofle, senior director of High-Energy Lasers at Raytheon Technologies. He further emphasized the company’s commitment to supporting the Air Force and providing reliable, capable laser systems that instill confidence in the personnel using them.
Impressively compact, the laser weapon system can be transported in the bed of a pickup truck, making it highly versatile and easily deployable. It consists of a high-energy laser weapon module, a long-range EO/IR (Electro-Optical/Infrared) sensor that serves as the beam director, thermal control, internal electrical power, and targeting software. All these components are meticulously integrated to withstand the harshest combat environments. The system is operated using a laptop and a video game-style controller, and it can seamlessly integrate with existing air defense, command, and control systems, providing an essential layer of defense.
The palletized laser weapon system was manufactured at the world’s first laser weapon factory in McKinney, Texas, and delivered to the Life Cycle Management Center a mere nine months after the initial order. Raytheon Technologies, with its vast team of 180,000 employees, continues to push the boundaries of aerospace and defense technology, transforming the way we connect and protect our world. With a strong focus on aviation advancements, smarter defense systems, and cutting-edge innovations for space exploration, the company is at the forefront of shaping the future of these industries.
As the Air Force enhances its capabilities to counter emerging threats, the successful deployment and testing of the palletized laser weapon system represent a remarkable achievement. This milestone underscores the continuous pursuit of advanced technologies and reinforces the commitment of Raytheon Technologies to support the defense needs of the United States. With its unrivaled precision and mobility, the palletized laser weapon system stands as a testament to the ongoing innovation within the defense sector, strengthening our nation’s security and protection.