Raytheon published a company press release last week that detailed how it "will deploy two prototype high energy laser weapon systems" to the Air Force for a 12-month in-field operation against enemy drones.
The $23 million contract for two of Raytheon's High Energy Laser Weapons Systems (HELWS) will be used by the Air Force in an unknown warzone overseas, most likely Syria for about one year.
"What we really want to do is figure out how we can deploy these systems in an environment where our warfighters work and train every day," said Evan Hunt, director of high energy laser and counter-UAS at Raytheon.
The HELWS uses directed energy weapon technology to take down drones instantly. The laser weapon is connected to Raytheon's Multi-spectral Targeting System, for the most precise and cheapest cost per kill ratio of any system on the modern battlefield.
Both HELWS systems have been mounted onto Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicles, which are diesel-powered and can endure almost any kind of terrain, will allow fast-moving special forces to defend against enemy quadcopters during covert operations.
"Every day, there's another story about a rogue drone incident," Stefan Baur, vice president of Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems, told The Washington Post.
"These threats aren't going away, and in many instances, shooting them with a high energy laser weapon system is the most effective and safest way to bring them down."
The 10-kilowatt lasers allow special forces to combat drones without wasting ammunition, experts have said this is one of the best ways in eliminating remotely operated quadcopter drones operated by ISIS that are generally used for reconnaissance missions, but in some cases, are used as suicide drones against Western forces.
HELWS will also be effective against armed-drone swarms that have become a popular tactic by ISIS in the last five years.
"The fact that it's a laser weapon allows you to put energy in target at the speed of light. It can be an instantaneous heating event," said Michael Jirjis, who leads the Air Force's directed energy experimentation projects, told The Post.
Jirjis said the test will be the first "operational field assessment" of HELWS.
He said this is the first Air Force deployment "for an operational field assessment of lasers for counter UAS and the first time we have the entire AF Enterprise intimately engaged across the acquisition community, test centers, operators, and headquarters."
The Air Force's modernization effort to combat small drones used by ISIS is due to recent aerial attacks by quadcopters on American forces.
"Our ground forces have not come under attack from enemy aircraft since the Korean War 65 years ago," the Air Force said in a 2018 video presentation at an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
These small quadcopters are one of the most significant threats to US troops operating in the Middle East.
ISIS didn't possess quadcopter technology ten years ago, as this is a rapidly evolving threat that has to be countered or could severely hinder American operations on modern battlefields across the Middle East and Africa.