Kawasaki presents new high-energy laser system for anti-drone defense

The system has a range of 328 feet for destroying drones, though it can track targets at up to 984 feet.
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AFRL counter-UAS demonstration of a high-energy laser.
AFRL counter-UAS demonstration of a high-energy laser.

Wikimedia Commons 

In collaboration with the Japanese Ministry of Defense and the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA), Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) has presented its High Energy Laser System.

For a laser-based Very Short-Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) system, KHI started gathering the necessary technology in 2000. This initiative began in 2000 with the development of chemical lasers and some preliminary work, then moved on to work on drone identification and targeting for a future system.

In 2010, this project upgraded from a 10kW laser to a 50kW laser, turning it into a significant research program. The VSHORAD program at KHI had switched to solid-state lasers by 2020, with laser power increasing from 50kW to 100Kw. At KHI, a significant R&D project is underway to create a High Energy Laser-based Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) system. This system will be grounded.

The only prototype of a light C-UAS laser system placed on a vehicle was also displayed by KHI. A four-wheel Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX vehicle is equipped with a 2kW high-energy laser system. A tracking imager is part of the laser system, which is mounted on a gimbal system. Currently, it can engage targets up to a 100-meter distance away. The Japanese airborne forces utilize this all-terrain vehicle. The anti-drone system will be transported in a larger modification using heavy-duty trucks with 24.8-ton wheels.

Aegis destroyers may one day be equipped with anti-drone systems. The unusual weapon's technical specifications are kept a secret by the manufacturer.

The system was developed at the request of Japan's Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA), a roughly analogous organization to DARPA that seeks to incorporate cutting-edge technology into the country's self-defense forces. A 2-kilowatt power source, a tracker, a high-energy laser, a gimbal to balance and maintain the laser's focus, and a laser system were all on display. It can only kill drones at 328 feet (100 meters), but it can track targets at a distance of up to 984 feet (300 meters). It was attached to a Mule Pro-FX, a three-seat all-terrain vehicle with a $15,000 suggested retail price.

The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) Japan conference, which took place outside of Tokyo from March 15–17, featured a demonstration of the laser and ATV combination. The exhibition provides a venue for various arms producers worldwide to get together and display their goods to potential partners or governments. The second conference to be hosted by Japan this year featured 66 countries and 178 companies.

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