Raytheon Technologies
Demay17 2 Promo

Laser Weapon Sights Drones at a Distance

May 26, 2021
A high-energy-laser weapon system is ready and able to detect and take out UAVs gone rogue or deemed a threat, but is smart enough to avoid doing so if falling debris poses a danger to public safety.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones are becoming inevitable ingredients in many lifestyles, from package delivery to weather forecasting, although perhaps not always welcome. As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Aviation Administration has established strict rules for the use of drones in populated areas, with its most recent Operations Over People mandate setting the need to register a drone with the FAA and establishing requirements for an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at night and over populated areas. Lasers may also provide a way to prevent excessive damage from an out-of-control UAS at a public event (see the figure).

Evan Hunt, director of high-energy lasers and counter-UAS at Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S), a Raytheon Technologies business, explained some of the growing problems with drones:  “Drones are becoming more sophisticated and dangerous, and many can be easily designed to be immune to things like jamming,” said Hunt. “To defeat them, authorities around sporting events need new ways to precisely identify and track these drones at long distances and, if deemed threatening, quickly eliminate them.”

The high-energy-laser weapon system (HELWS) developed by RI&S is paired with the company’s rich tradition in radar technology to detect drones from several miles away and provide weapon system’s operators a clear view of the target even in highly populated areas such as public sporting events. Once a UAS has been identified as a threat, it can be destroyed in mid-flight by an accurately aimed high-power laser beam. Of course, in a populated area, the ruins of a rogue drone may pose danger to the crowd below and Justin Martin, a program manager for the HELWS at RIAS says: “To mitigate risks to the public, HELWS can be pre-programed with safety zones where the system will automatically inhibit the laser from being used. Conversely, areas that are determined safe to bring down a drone, such as an empty field or body of water, are pre-loaded into the system—these areas are ideal to stop a threat.” The laser systems are compact enough to be positioned around public places and even on the back of pickup trucks and tactical vehicles as a deterrent to dangerous drones. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Getting Started with Python for VNA Automation

April 19, 2024
The video goes through the steps for starting to use Python and SCPI commands to automate Copper Mountain Technologies VNAs. The process of downloading and installing Python IDC...

Can I Use the VNA Software Without an Instrument?

April 19, 2024
Our VNA software application offers a demo mode feature, which does not require a physical VNA to use. Demo mode is easy to access and allows you to simulate the use of various...

Introduction to Copper Mountain Technologies' Multiport VNA

April 19, 2024
Modern RF applications are constantly evolving and demand increasingly sophisticated test instrumentation, perfect for a multiport VNA.

Automating Vector Network Analyzer Measurements

April 19, 2024
Copper Mountain Technology VNAs can be automated by using either of two interfaces: a COM (also known as ActiveX) interface, or a TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) socket interface...