Army Tests IED-Killer Laser

Army Tests IED-Killer Laser

You spot an IED from a Predator or the guy on point spots it. An armored vehicle rolls up and zaps it with a laser, blowing the sucker up. No one has to don a suit or get out of a vehicle. Neat, huh?

It’s not often that we’ll respond to a plain old company press release but Boeing has tested just such a laser system that looks as if it could really make a difference to troops in the field today.

If it’s far enough along to actually rumble over broken terrain, fire and be maintained in the field this is the sort of weapon that could help change the balance The company completed a test in late September of the Laser Avenger combat vehicle. Its laser zapped 50 IEDs “similar to those used by adversaries in war zones.” (Their press people could have just said Quds, AQI and Taliban, but…)

“The system operated at safe distances from the targets and under a variety of conditions, including different angles and ranges. Soldiers traveling with Laser Avenger would not have to get out of their armored vehicles or wait for an explosive ordnance disposal team to destroy an IED and continue their mission,” the release says. Now that is something to move to the field as soon as practicable

The test was sponsored by the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).We contacted them to find out if the system is anywhere near ready to go into the field and they declined to comment, saying to do so might give away tactics, techniques and procedures. A Boeing spokesman said a “system like this” could be fielded in one year “if funded.”

The IED test follows demonstrations over the last two years when Laser Avenger shot down small unmanned aerial vehicles.

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What a load of rubbish. You could do the same thing with a .303 Lee Enfield rifle borrowed from the Taliban.

The thing about IEDs (and landmines) is that they are only effective if you don’t know they are there. You have to go to them for them to be effective, and as the US military doesn’t have any real off-road capability (other than helicopters) the Taliban and Insurgents put them on roads knowing that sooner or later their prey will come to them.

They are not going to sit their IEDs on top of the road waiting to be zapped by a totally high tech ‘weapon’, and if you do know where it is you don’t need an EOD team to destroy it. Just shoot it or blow it up. It would take longer for one of these things to turn up than any EOD team anyway. I mean look at the size of it. It probably costs a trillions of $$$$ as well.

Gentlemen, simple solutions for simple problems. Don’t get distracted by ‘high tech weapons. The Nazis went down that path building V-2 rockets when they really needed to concentrate their resources building war winning weapons that actually worked, like better anti-T34 rockets, or air defence radars, and better Jet aircraft. Learn from them. If you have to wait for the EOD guys to turn up, then just mark the IED and drive around it.

Anyway, is that not an anti-aircraft system on the hummer? Are they not stinger launchers? and it sound like Boeing is using JIEDDOs money to develop this thing using the IED bogeyman to scare them into handing over lots of $$$$. Good for business, bad for war.

That wasn’t an IED in the video. That was a mortar round in plain site. In the beginning of OIF, if an IED was exposed like that, we’d simply hit it with a few dollars worth of .50 cal or 25mm. If Boeing wants to impress anybody they should show a buried IED get burned up by that laser. Otherwise its just an expensive way to shoot trash on the side of the road.

I think there may be a few advantages of the laser over using a few rounds of lead — but I’ll readily admit that I just don’t see it as practical.

I like the idea that I don’t have to worry about ricochets or misses in an urban environment (some of my friends in Iraq were not allowed to use .50 cal because of overpenetration and the like). This kind of targeting should eliminate that concern.

I also wonder if a .50 cal is as reliably effective? Heck, for all I know, the .50 cal is actually MORE effective — but I just don’t know.

I, too, suspect the cost is ridiculous. Also, I’d be concerned about what happens if there is dust or rain — or if they give the IED a reflective surface?

this type of technology was demoed and even deployed for testing several years back (a funky system called ZEUS-laser mounted on HMMV). As noted it’s great if the IED isn’t buried.

Good Morning Folks,

I agree with Pete on this one. The trick is finding the IED/EFP. When that’s done, destroying it is only a matter of routine.

The only advantage to a system such as this would be if the device is in an area where it’s detonation will cause collateral damage. Then that is, only if the laser can deactivate the device with out exploding it. If not then what’s the use of this what appears to be an very expensive way of doing what Pete’s .303 Lee Enfield could do?

On Germany WW II, I also have no argument with Pete. The Germans build about 6K V-2’s (8K V-1’s), the V-2 killed an average of two people per missile, the V-2 largest score in Britain was a Woolworth Store that was hit in Charming Cross where a 160 people died. The V-1’s kill rate less then one per missile.

The resources put in to each V-2 could have build a bomber of the era, the resources put into each V-1 could have build a fighter plane or a tank.

The same dismal results seem to still hold true today with the use of conventionally armed ballistic missiles and cruse missiles. They just are not effect combat weapons, but, and we have to give credit where credit is due they are great propaganda and terror weapons against civilian targets.

Byron Skinner

needs a much smaller more efficient power source. It appears the weapon it not strong enough, You can fix this with forgetting the use of a conventional power source and think nano. I am no optics PhD., however would it not be better to have a tunable weapon based on easily changing frequency & wavelength of the beam in lieu of brute force power rating 5– 8 kilojoules in a package no bigger than a m-16 with grenade launcher.

What a clumsy great clod of a thing it is. Retracted into the belly of a C130, maybe its useful, but how does it locate the IED? So, the insurgents just place an not to obvious dummy IED on a three times longer logistic tail (thanks to the Yanks and their tanks — M1) and wait for this vehicle, costing $X squillions, to lumber down the road and then hit it with RPG or sniper fire, or even a well camouflaged IED. What a cludge of aspirant technologies in search of a materiel requirement?

Our affectation with function buttons and software already denies the largely available and hugely effective tools already in service, the K9! Get over it defence industries and military morons, get more dog teams, simple! Especially when kitted out like the Israeli Oketz teams with camera and audio to command the dog from inside a real armoured vehicle such as Namer equipped with Trophy!

Every military and civilian officer in Defence should be bolted into a chair and forced to read:


By an ex WWII bomb disposal team leader, awarded the MBE for his bravery, who became arguably one of the great post war experiment psychologists of the western world. I do believe it is required reading for the IDF…

Sorry I speak only French and Spanish

Mirando la video del IED, es una locura, este aparato para destruir los artefactos visibles sobre el suelo , que costo impresionante para un resultado tan pequeño y es verdad que con el Lee MKIII Mark I de la la 1sr guerra mundial se puede destruir eso.

En realidad el problema no es eso; El verdadero problema del Ejercito Americano como de los Europeo , ellos crren y apuestan unicamente sobre la high-tech a costos eneormes en R &D para solucionar pequeños problemas operacionales

Que ser mas pragamtico en sus acercamientos sobre el material que necesita realmente los soldados, porque es muy costoso tambien el mantenimiento del material, eso significa que para un soladado en combate, hay 3 ingenieros de alto nivel atras para reparar y reacondicionar el material dañado , cuando los tañlibanes etc.… no tienen bulletproof vest , casco ni nada y que cuando su AK47 esta dañado , con un simple clavo y una piedra lo reparara.….….….…. Aqui es el verdadero problema de la guerra, la cual, por definicion es la economia de fuerzas y no desarrollar material que funciona bien en laboratorio acesptisado y con aire climatizado … estos ingenieros de R & D estan equivocados por no tener experiencias del terreno en el cual debera operar el matererial

Parece que ser practico esta en el cajon de los olvidos


Michel Baikrich
Ballistic & Weapons Eng. (Belgium)
email :
Website : http://​www​.mbaikrich​.webs​.com/

Rough translation:

Too complex and expensive a system to destroy a cheap IED; a WWI tank could do it.

The US military thinks all problems need an R&D heavy expensive solution. The US spends a fortune paying multiple engineers to repair a weapon in the rear when the Taliban with no helmet or body armor can repair his AK47 with a rock and a nail.

US engineers need field time to come up with their solutions rather than inventing them in an air conditioned laboratory where they work great but not in the field.


Many thanks for part of my text translate in English

Note : The Lee Enfield MK III is the first model of Lee enfield Rifle cal. 303 Br.


Michel Baikrich

Two words: Anti personnel.

An anti-IED system that is countered by a few inches of sand????

I understand that boeing is just trying to make money. but providing and incredibly expensive partial solution to a problem which can be solved much more cheaply and without technology is not really for the greater good.


Para Boeing y muchas otras mas, ellos estan en un otro planeta.…. se llama “Digital War” pero si se acaba la electricidad o se perturba la señal a traves de CEM o una pequeña explosion nuclear.… Ya todo este material no funcionara.

La realidad del terreno operacional es un poco diferente, siempre que hay dos conceptos distintos

Example Afganistan : las tropas del Nato con materiales sofisticados , porque buscan hacer una guerra con cero muertos ( concepto occidental ) y el Taliban sin aviacion, sin helicopteros, sin MBT, sin artileria sofisticada, sin helmets, sin Bulletproof vest.… pero conociendo cada inch del terreno y con mobilidad en las montañas y armamentos ligeros y rusticos .…… da una ventaja.

Parece que los militares del Nato se olvidaron de los consejos de Sun Tzu


Michel Baikrich

“The IED test follows demonstrations over the last two years when Laser Avenger shot down small unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Looks like this is a demonstration of an alternate use for a developing technology. Patriot was not originally designed to shoot down Scuds, and Air Avenger was not designed for IEDs. This looks like a smart capability to have.

Actually — having talked to a former soldier who was in Iraq, I could see the usefulness of this.

Much of the reason the troops stop is for suspicious items — a cooler with wires sticking out of it road side.

Just zap it with the laser, and if it melts, I guess its safe to pass.

They will never come up with anything better than training our guys what to look out for and comunicating new findings — only trouble is the brass tries to figure too much into things before sharing info. In the begining they were buried fairly shallow and were not that hard to locate if you had a good eye and they were fresh(due to soil coloring of a fresh hole), But they countered this by spreading old top layered soil on top of the IED’s so you had to become more watchful, Then they started going roadside (they would even repave where they dug) so we wathched for fresh pavement, they figured this out so they would cover it with sand, so we watched for the clumps of sand mixed with fresh pavement. Thing is they are always adjusting to what we do but the word is not getting out to the field in time when they do adjust thier tactics. But once you do locate them — I have never had any trouble setting one off with a 12ga SABOT round or by dropping bit of C4 and a detonator on it. We never bothered EOD, but there are a lot of officers out there that wont do anything out of their job description and call EOD for everything..

Nothing really to add on to what everyone else is saying.
Build a better IED detector. Destroying the ones we can see hasn’t really been a problem.

Thanks brother, good job w/ the translation.

I can think of at least one good use for this laser and the one they tested from a C-130. Imagine if you will a few Taliban planting an IED. Suddenly it explodes for no apparent reason. End of one IED planting team and the bombmaker popularity goes down a little. Or suddenly a rocket explodes as it is being set up but before it is fired. You might even be able to cause reactive armor to explode! Great PSYOPS potential and complete deniability!

Just to digress a bit back in 2007 when I was in Iraq the division CG said something to the effect of “if the IED is in the ground, we’ve failed.” We put a huge amount of intel and combat assets into tearing apart the IED network and found massive caches of money, materials, and key personnel. Once the IED is buried, you’re dependent on expensive technology, luck, and a few inches of steel to get you through the rest.

Recently my peers and I watched a 60 minutes episode where a colonel in afghanistan was interviewed about a route clearance platoon that got hit on multiple occasions which wounded several soldiers and wiped out a few MRAPs. He told the interviewer “that’s their job.” Collectively we all called bull$h!t that it was not the engineer’s job to just eat IEDs for everyone else. Their job was to find them, but its a slow and manpower-intensive task to which that unit wasn’t resourced.

LOL Poor America.called a Jew by the MS supporters again…

Don’t they do that already with a UAG armed with hellfires? Lot cheaper than a C-130. The best PSYOPS is ones that leave the enemy dead, not sunburnt. Anyway, if “it suddenly exploded for no reason’, why do you think they would go “must have been a laser’. Good grief!

The key advantage Boeing is demonstrating here is in the area of Lasers, not EOD ops. This laser is electrically powered, does not need any toxic gases as fuel. They are using is a solid state laser built with a bunch of laser diodes (like in DVD recording drive), and is the first of its kind to be close to deployment. All other military lasers (other than rangefinders) use unstable methods (chemicals) of generating power and are very unsafe outside of the lab.

The drawback with diode lasers is that they are very weak, it will be years till this technology will be strong enough to beat a 50. cal (in terms of energy delivered). Hopefully the Army will buy a bunch, to keep the engineers excited.


The problem with a Hellfire is that it is a Hellfire. Everyone knows it was fired at the target. Same with a mortar, or a rifle, or anything else. Now, with a laser (especially if it was in a UAV or even a C-130) when someone is planting an IED or setting up a rocket you can blow it up without anyone on the ground suspecting you did it. You could also blow up a conveniently handy rocket or grenade in a meeting of Taliban. The logical conclusion becomes that it was a faulty bomb since it is not unusual for bombers to blow themselves up. Potential bombers become less trusting of that bombmaker. Alternatively, they may think there is a traitor in their midst who did it. At the worse, they would think the US did it, but they would never know.

While I didn’t use this exact system, we had a system that used the same idea that we tested while I was in Iraq. On military munitions it worked great. Depending on the round took a few seconds or upto a minute. But when it came to IEDs, it was pretty much a no-go. Good idea, bad execution.

Everyone knows that lasers make a loud, distinctinve PEW PEW sound when fired…

If we zap a Taliban from a mile away, will the Army also supply the suntan lotion?

What is the anti-personal possibilities for this system?

One thing I did pick up was the first 60mm that was exploded took a long time. That is because the laser does not have enough juice to knock down a 122 rocket in flight. Otherwise, Boeing would be testing this thing 2 miles from the West Bank and Gaza.

What a joke. Munitions sitting exposed on rocks. Send a few rounds, costing what, $1.

Keep lasers for exposed stuff of merit like missiles, mortars, rockets, artillery, planes and vehicles.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have seen in a long time.

They need a reality readjustment.

ya gotta find ‘em to kill ‘em..why aren’t line charges being used more often? there is man portable versions, etc. we are turning this into rocket science…

Great idea, wrong application

It would be better to increase the output of the laser and use it on enemy personnel or as a perimeter defense weapon (not sure its power source, assuming renewable/portable if their test can put it on a Humvee)- even as a ground based version of the anti-missile chemical laser currently taking up the length of a modified Boeing 747 (in fact, with a few mods, I bet they could even use this laser in place of the chemical one, allowing the laser to placed on fighter aircraft– Apaches, Raptors, etc. for significant advantage over conventional ballistic weapons– supply verse weight)

The technology has to start somewhere, perhaps it will be of some use of neutralizing IEDs when they can’t just be shot up or disposed of safely by other means.

“The IED test follows demonstrations over the last two years when Laser Avenger shot down small unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Yeah, paper airplanes. Burned ‘em right up.

Michael in Atlanta

Loose Translation
For Boeing and another ones,They are in another planet… Is called digital war but if the electricity is gone or the signal is distorted or a small nuclear weapon blast..All of this material does not work anymore.
The operational reality is different,you have two different concepts.
Aftan:NATO troops use sofisticated materials because they are looking for Zero casualties(western concept)but the Taliban without aircraft ‚helos,tanks,artillery,helmets and bulletproof vest… but knowing the terrain and using rugged and lighter weapons are at advantage
Seem that NATO forget Sun Tzu

too little too late.…what if they bury the IED? Does the world know that some years ago, Arthur Toor and team from Lawrence Livermore or one of our other national labs, developed a device that can detect buried explosives like mines, ied’s etc and explode them from a drone. In a test his team was given a number of drones by the air force and they were the only ones to have a perfect score. So the air force approved the device. But a certain General from the Vietnam fiasco vetoed it saying he preferred pink mist. What is pink mist? When a soldier steps on a mine he dissolves into a pink mist…that, the enlightened general said…is the only real way to find a mine. He lost his war. So where is this device now? It could fly in front of a convoy and explode ieds and mines. It could clear old mine fields in very little time. We have it, where the heck is it and why is it not being used? We are also spreading polymers along the sides of the roads supposedly too tough to bury a mine in…will that stop these ingenious fighters?

Pink mist, I love it. It is a joke right?. Also what is this polymers you are talking about?.


Gracias por la ayuda en la traduccion

Best regard


Allons ‘y!

Well said.

Hadn’t considered some of your points but have now.


Gracias y merci.

Bien fait , amigo.


Ted Dentay
de Canada

I’d prefer to have this system on Naval ships and nuke sites to shoot down ballistic missles. There is no point of having a laser do what a single AP incindiary .50 cal could do. I mean its cool and all, but its not really necessary. I’d prefer they develop a way of detecting IEDs instead. Anyone agree?


Forget IED’s would like to see it on a fob in OEF burning them on the hills lol

if it saves lives its worth it. being in iraq is bullshit. an we can’t just walk out of afganistan, so if it saves our soldiers i say do it.

I think you just described a phased plasma rifle in the 40W range. Problem is, this ain’t hollywood, and the bad guys aren’t robos.

Do you really want something high-tech and classy rather than just shooting them? What’s wrong with just getting some of those cheap toy (about $10 to $20 each) remote controlled dung buggies, putting a piece of C4 or a grenade on it, guiding it to the device and detonating it? You can even put a shape charge on it for harder targets! Not only do you save money, but you make it fun and give the soldiers something to play with when things are calm. It’s high-tech, (well higher tech then just shooting them), classy and fun. What more do you want?

We need this plasma technology on our (USA) ships, boats and planes. The Russian have been using this for a long time now.

We need this plasma technology on our (USA) ships, boats and planes. The Russian have been using this for a long time now.

Watch rocket city rednecks. They built one out of blu-ray player lasers.


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