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Boeing Laser Beams Can Take Down Airplanes

In September, we reported that Boeing successfully defeated a ground target using its Advanced Tactical Laser aircraft. Now the company has shown its laser prowess again by tracking and destroying small, unmanned aerial vehicles in the air. A single laser beam, fired by the U.S. Air Force-sponsored Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated eXperiments (MATRIX), shot down five UAVs at various ranges.

"The Air Force and Boeing achieved a directed-energy breakthrough with these tests," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems' Directed Energy Systems unit. "MATRIX's performance is especially noteworthy because it demonstrated unprecedented, ultra-precise and lethal acquisition, pointing and tracking at long ranges using relatively low laser power."

In addition to the MATRIX's successful mission, Boeing's privately funded program, Laser Avenger, shot down a UAV as well. Laser Avenger integrates a directed-energy weapon with existing kinetic weapons on an Avenger air defense system. MATRIX, on the other hand, is a mobile, trailer-mounted test bed that integrates with existing test-range radar, according to Boeing.

Boeing is currently developing laser weapon systems for a variety of U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy applications.

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