Defense Contractor Creates Anti-Drone System Using ATVs and Lasers

Defense contractor Raytheon has come up with a way to shoot down drones dominating the skies.

Enter the HELWS-MRZR, or the High Energy Laser Weapon System. This anti-drone ordinance combines a Polaris MRZR ATV, a portable laser and a multispectral targeting system to burn drones by using high-tech lasers.

Sitting on top of the ATV is a 30 sq. ft. electronics package which powers the laser weapon. You may know the MTS (multi-targeting spectrum) because it’s the same system being used by the Predator drones. It’s equipped with a night vision camera, a laser illuminator and a laser designator and can run the same surveillance standoff like the Predator.

The HELWS-MRZR’s main weapon is the laser that can burn drones and take them offline. In a field test, the High Energy Laser Weapons System burnt through the arm of a quadcopter, causing it to fail and lose its flying capabilities. The weapon can be fired up to 30 times via the electronics package. The weapons system can be outfitted with portable generators for unlimited laser firing.

The proliferation of weaponized consumer drones in Europe and the Middle East has spurred the defense contractor to build an anti-drone vehicle using existing equipment. Instead of building a new mobile counter-drone unit, defense contractor Raytheon used the Polaris MRZR, a vehicle that’s already being used by the military, and their existing laser package. The company mentioned how they saw a demand in the HELWS package and thought about making it smaller for going on missions.

The company didn’t see the need to start from scratch and create a new laser, a sensor package and a ground vehicle. Instead, researchers have made use of existing Raytheon technology and used it to neutralize a new threat. The design philosophy was to make the anti-drone unit small, mobile and capable. It’s a shining example of efficient innovation.

Currently, the HELWS-MRZR needs to be immobile before the laser can be fired. Raytheon is working on how they can use the weapon to protect convoys and forward-operating bases that are potential targets for weaponized drones.

A live demo of the High Energy Weapon Laser System is set to appear in the next US Army Maneuver Fires Experiment held in Fort Still, Oklahoma this December. As you may know, Fort Still is the base of operations for the US Army Air Defense. This department is enjoying a resurgence in operations due to the popularity of drones.


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