Boeing Defense, Space & Security
P.O. Box 516
St. Louis, MO 63166
Directed Energy Systems
Description and Purpose: The Directed
Energy Systems (DES) unit of Boeing
Strategic Missile and Defense Systems is
developing several systems to address multiple defense
needs and customers.
Customers: Among key DES programs are the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator,
funded by the U.S. Army; the Free Electron Laser and the Mk 38 Tactical Laser System,
commissioned by the U.S. Navy; and the Tactical Relay Mirror System, being developed
for the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Director of Defense
Research and Engineering.
High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator
Boeing has been awarded a U.S. Army contract to continue developing a mobile, solidstate laser weapon system that will counter targets such as rockets, artillery shells,
mortars and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Under the High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD) Phase II contract,
Boeing was tasked to complete the design of – then build, test and evaluate – a rugged
beam control system on a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck. Boeing also will
develop the system-engineering requirements for the entire HEL TD laser weapon
In June 2011, Boeing completed system integration of key components for the U.S.
Army’s High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD). The integration included
installation of the Beam Control System and critical hardware onto the Oshkosh Heavy
Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, HEL TD’s vehicle platform.
This milestone helped to prepare HEL TD for low-power system testing at White Sands
Missile Range in New Mexico. The tests, completed in 2011, demonstrated the system’s
ability to acquire, track and target moving projectiles.
In the next phase, the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), Boeing will
integrate and test a high power system. When completed, the HEL MD will consist of a
ruggedized and supportable high energy laser and subsystems installed on a tactical
In operation, HEL MD’s beam control system will acquire, track and select an aimpoint on
a target during the same timeframe in which the system also will receive the laser beam
from the laser device, reshape and align it, and focus it on the target. The system
includes mirrors, high-speed processors and high-speed optical sensors.
The objective of the HEL MD program is to demonstrate that a mobile, solid-state laser
weapon system can effectively counter rocket, artillery and mortar projectiles. HEL MD is
a cornerstone of the Army’s high-energy laser program and will support the transition of
directed energy technologies to Army acquisition programs.
Free Electron Laser
Boeing has been awarded a U.S. Navy contract to develop the Free Electron Laser (FEL)
weapon system, which will transform naval warfare in the next decade by providing an
ultra-precise, speed-of-light capability and unlimited magazine depth to defend ships
against the most challenging threats.
Under the initial task order awarded by the Office of Naval Research, Boeing completed
a preliminary design of the electric-powered Free Electron Laser, the key step toward
building a FEL prototype to be tested at sea. In September of 2010, Boeing was awarded
an additional task order to complete the critical design of the FEL lab demonstrator. This
critical design review phase will be completed in March 2012, after which the Navy
intends to proceed with fabrication and testing in a laboratory environment.
FEL is designed to operate by passing a beam of high-energy electrons through a
series of powerful magnetic fields, generating an intense beam of laser light.
Mk 38 Tactical Laser System
The Mk 38 Mod 2 Machine Gun System (MGS) with Tactical Laser System (TLS), under
development for the U.S. Navy, is designed to bring a scalable, highly accurate force
protection capability to both combatant and non-combatant ships. The stabilized, remotecontrol Mk 38 Mod 2 MGS, which is deployed worldwide, and TLS together provide
scalable effects against multiple surface and air threats.
The TLS is paired with the MGS, sharing deck space and the initial sensing and pointing
systems operator control console. Likewise, the same operator that remotely controls
and fires the MGS, controls and fires the laser with the ability to shift between systems as
the tactical situation dictates.
By coupling a solid-state, high energy laser weapon module with the operational Mk 38
gun platform on a single mount, this system will advance the Navy’s capability to counter
surface and air threats such as small boats and UAVs affordably and with high precision.
Tactical Relay Mirror System
Relay mirror systems will greatly enhance the performance of laser weapon systems by
reducing the atmosphere’s effects on laser beams, extending their range beyond line of
sight and expanding potential laser engagement geometries.
Boeing is under contract to the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to
design, fabricate and test the Tactical Relay Mirror System, which could be carried on
unmanned aerial vehicles or balloon-like aerostats and be used with tactical ground and
Boeing Internal R&D
Boeing is investing its own money in several efforts that promise to equip the warfighter
with directed energy capability. These efforts include the Boeing Acquisition Tracking and
Pointing (ATP) System, which is capable of handling low- and mid-power laser systems.
ATP provides a tailored, integrated, and cost-effective solution for both homeland
security and force protection. Mounted on the currently deployed Avenger platform, the
laser system can provide options for lethal and non-lethal weapons to counter both air
and ground threats. With its acquisition and targeting camera, high power fiber laser and
laser range finder, the laser system provides detection, surveillance and expanded
security, in any environment.
During laser firings conducted in September 2007 at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville,
Ala., the laser-equipped Avenger engaged and destroyed five static ground targets
representing improvised explosive device (IED) and unexploded ordinance (UXO)
During December 2008 testing, the system engaged and destroyed a small unmanned
aerial vehicle (UAV) from an operationally relevant range, marking the first time a combat
vehicle has used a laser to shoot down a UAV. It destroyed another UAV and 50 IEDs in
separate 2009 tests.
Strategic Missile & Defense Systems