The TRW-built Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) weapon tracked and destroyed two Katyusha rockets in its second live-fire test on 28 August.

The test against multiple rockets was a follow-on to the single projectile shootdown on 6 June. Additional interceptions of rocket salvos of two or more rockets are planned this month. In the latest test, two of the 3m (10ft)-long 122mm rockets were destroyed by THEL's laser.

Israel and the USA are partnered on the project, and the prototype weapon could be shipped to Israel for additional evaluation. Meanwhile, the USA and Israel are close to agreement on a joint programme to develop a mobile version of THEL.

The THEL advanced concept technology demonstration is primarily geared to developing a defence against Russian Katyusha rockets that have threatened northern Israeli cities, but the US Army may field a smaller version for use in South Korea and for peacekeeping/contingency operations.

The complete system includes a deuterium fluoride chemical laser, a pointer-tracker, command and control subsystem and a fire control radar (FCR).

Supporting TRW are Rafael, Tadiran and Israel Aircraft Industries' Elta subsidiary, which provides the FCR, a quarter scale version of the Green Pine radar, developed for Israel's Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile system.

The US Army is drafting an operational requirements document for a lighter, more compact THEL. The demonstrator weighs 182,000kg (400,000lb).

Source: Flight International