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Army laser truck advances

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Star Wars-like warfare took a step closer toward becoming a reality April 24 with news that Lockheed Martin has received a $25 million U.S. Army contract to design and build a truck-mounted laser.

With speed-of-light precision, the 60-kilowatt electric laser is intended to improve the ability of soldiers to destroy rockets, artillery shells, mortar rounds and unmanned aircraft. It will be installed on the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), a large military truck that Boeing has already equipped with a beam control system. Under the Army contract, work on the new laser is to be completed by December 2016.

Lockheed Martin said it has been developing lasers for the past 30 years. In January, it announced it had “demonstrated” a 30-kilowatt laser.

Other military lasers are under development, including a prototype the U.S. Navy plans to deploy on a ship late this summer for testing in the Persian Gulf.

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