The US Army has announced successfully destroying an artillery shell in mid-flight using a high-energy laser that previously had only proven successful at destroying slow rockets.

“We’ve shown that even an artillery projectile hurtling through the air at supersonic speed is no match for a laser,” says Lieutenant-General Joseph Cosumano, head of the US Space and Missile Defense Command. “This latest test shifts the paradigm for defencive capabilities.”

The military discussed its success in a joint statement with TRW Inc., the company that developed the weapon. It said that this Tuesday at the White Sands test range in New Mexico, the laser tracked, locked onto and destroyed a speeding shell.

Called Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser, the defence system had in 2000 shot down 25 Katyusha rockets fired alone and in salvos.

The latest success moves MTHEL closer to deployment by both the US and Israel, for both of which TRW is developing the technology.


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