Giuseppe Sandro Mela.
«The HELMTT, formerly the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, is a technology integration and demonstration effort with a solid state laser system, agile beam control system, and supporting subsystems integrated into a large tactical vehicle. The goal is to integrate and demonstrate maturing technologies to the point where lethal engagements in a relevant environment can be demonstrated. The Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck-based HEL MD became HELMTT when the Army decided in early fiscal year 2016 to integrate a more compact laser system on a family of medium tactical vehicles. The HELMTT provides risk reduction for Army high energy laser system technology development.» [Fonte]
I risultati sul campo non erano però stati così buoni come sperato.
«On July 18, 1996, the United States and Israel entered into an agreement to produce a cooperative THEL called the Demonstrator which would utilize deuterium fluoride chemical laser technologies. Primary among the four contractors awarded the project on September 30, 1996 was Northrop Grumman (formerly TRW). THEL conducted test firing in FY1998, and Initial Operating Capability (IOC) was planned in FY1999. However, this was significantly delayed due to reorienting the project as a mobile, not fixed design, called Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL). The original fixed location design eliminates most weight, size and power restrictions, but is not compatible with the fluid, mobile nature of modern combat. The initial MTHEL goal was a mobile version the size of three large semi trailers. Ideally it would be further downsized to a single semi trailer size. However, doing this while maintaining the original performance characteristics is difficult. Furthermore, the Israeli government, which had been providing significant funding, decreased their financial support in 2004, postponing the IOC date to at least 2010.
In 2000 and 2001 THEL shot down 28 Katyusha artillery rockets and five artillery shells.
On November 4, 2002, THEL shot down an incoming artillery shell. A mobile version completed successful testing. During a test conducted on August 24, 2004 the system successfully shot down multiple mortar rounds. The test represented actual mortar threat scenarios. Targets were intercepted by the THEL testbed and destroyed. Both single mortar rounds and salvo were tested. Many military experts, such as the former head of the Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry, Aluf Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, considered THEL to be a success and called for its implementation. However, in 2005, the US and Israel decided to discontinue developing the THEL after the project budget had surpassed $300 million. The decision came as a result of “its bulkiness, high costs and poor anticipated results on the battlefield.” During the 2006 Lebanon War, Ben Yisrael, currently the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, renewed his calls to implement the THEL against high-trajectory fire. » [Fonte]
La notizia riportata dal The Washington Times lascia quindi alquanto perplessi.
Anche se sarebbe del tutto comprensibile che l’esercito degli Stati Uniti mantenga uno stretto riserbo sulle armi che sta mettendo a punto, sembrerebbe altrettanto verosimile che qualche notizia avesse potuto trapelare, anche tenendo conto della tipologia innovativa di questa arma.
Riportiamo quindi per dovere di cronica, ma ci permettiamo di restare alquanto scettici fino a prova contraria.
→ The Washington Times. 2017-03-18. Army prepares truck-mounted laser weapon test after record-breaking demo
The U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin plan to test a record-breaking laser weapon within months.
Lockheed Martin made national headlines in June 2015 when its 30-kilowatt ATHENA laser weapon destroyed a truck “within minutes.” The Maryland-based company announced a 58-kilowatt milestone on Thursday, which is good news as researchers prepare to implement the technology into the Army’s High Energy Laser Mobile Test Truck (HELMTT).
Robert Afzal, a senior fellow for laser and sensor systems at Lockheed, told Defense One on Thursday that HELMTT testing will commence within months.
“It’s an important breakthrough for solid-state, combined-beam fiber lasers,” the website reported. “Unlike the chemical lasers that the military was experimenting with decades ago, solid-state lasers require no volatile chemicals to produce high-powered beams. A combined-beam fiber laser operates a bit like a prism, pulling together different beams of light and squishing them into one. The more fiber optics you add, the more energy you get out the other end.”
If all goes according to plan, the U.S. Army says the weapon will reach 60-kilowatts of direct power during its evaluation.
Mr. Afzal noted that future iterations of the technology may allow the Pentagon to incorporate it into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
“The core of this technology, and our demo validates this, this technology is scalable. We can go up or down in power, go smaller or larger,” Mr. Afzal said.
→ The Washington Times. 2015-03-06. High-powered military laser destroys truck from 1 mile away in ‘seconds’
Lockheed Martin turned up the heat on its laser weapon technology and destroyed a truck from one mile away. The Maryland-based company’s test of the ATHENA laser weapon was the highest power ever recorded of a laser weapon of its type.
The Advanced Test High Energy Asset’s March 3 test destroyed its target in a “matter of seconds,” the company said in a statement. An image of the smoking vehicle accompanied its announcement.
“This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks,” said Keoki Jackson, chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin.
The ATHENA laser weapon employs a 30-kilowatt laser and was based on early technology used against small airborne and sea-based targets.
“This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks,” Lockheed said in its statement.