Boeing has just announced it successfully tracked and shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle with a laser weapon. Actually, it shot down five UAVs at various ranges with the trailer-mounted Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated eXperiments (MATRIX).
Developed at the request of the Air Force Research Laboratory, MATRIX integrates with standard test-range radar, focusing a single energy beam on moving aerial vehicles and blasting them out of the sky. It’s the future of aerial seek and destroy, defending against always-orbiting unmanned craft.
Of course, MATRIX isn’t Boeing’s first foray into laser weapons. Its Airborne Laser system has been under development for years, with the ultimate goal of zapping incoming missiles in midair. Meanwhile, Boeing’s Advanced Tactical Laser, another airplane mounted rig, was recorded just last month scoring hits on ground targets with precision accuracy.
Just to ice the cake, during the tests (which occurred this May in California) Boeing also shot down one more UAV with its Laser Avenger system, a hybrid laser/kinetic weapons system sporting both a directed energy weapon paired with a 25-millimeter machine gun. After all, if the laser’s quiet, stealthy effectiveness doesn’t strike fear in the robotic heart of the enemy, a barrage of large-bore machine gun rounds certainly will.