A half-scale version of the Boeing/US Air Force aerospace relay mirror system (ARMS), which would be carried on a high-altitude airship, long-endurance aircraft or spacecraft to divert directed energy, has successfully redirected a laser beam to a target.

ARMS could be used with airborne, ground-based or sea-based high-energy lasers to destroy ballistic missiles and other targets and has taken four years and $20 million to develop.

At the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico, the subscale 4.5m (15ft)-long ARMS, which has two 750mm (29.5in)-diameter mirrors, was raised 100ft above the ground by a crane. A low-power, sub-kilowatt-class ground laser several kilometres away was fired at one of the ARMS mirrors. The second mirror relayed the non-lethal beam to a ground-based target board about 3km away. "This demonstration is a major step as it shows a relay mirror system can receive laser energy and redirect it, extending the laser's range," says Boeing missile defence systems vice-president Pat Shanahan.

Source: Flight International