Boeing demonstrated its Compact Laser Weapons System (CLWS) in New Mexico late last week. It proved that the compact, portable, easily deployed system is capable of destroying a moving target from a 'tactical distance' of several hundred metres. This was the first time an unrestrained moving drone had been disabled by a weapons laser.
In the demonstration the system targeted an unmanned flying drone and took approximately 15 seconds to destroy it. Isaac Neal, a Boeing engineer, described the CLWS's power in the simplest of terms; "Think of it like a welding torch being put on target but from many hundreds of metres away." Neal went on to claim "If you were on the receiving end of laser energy, you'd have no idea where it was coming from or what was even happening".
The laser used in the demonstration and seen in the video doesn't boast a mind-boggling amount of power, like the Japanese LFEX which fires pulses of 2 quadrillion watts, however its portability and sustained welding torch-like power make it eminently deployable and usable as a weapon.
Xbox 360 controller
Boeing's 2kW CLWS is said to be portable and capable of being set up in minutes. The equipment fits inside four suitcase-sized boxes and is controlled by a laptop with an Xbox 360 controller and some custom targeting software. Once the target is in range and selected, the system can take over from the human operator and track the target until its flaming destruction.
The 2kW CLWS is the smallest system in development by Boeing. The firm is also designing laser weapons systems at larger sizes to "counter small boats or projectile weapons," reports CBC news.