The US Air Force (USAF) has received the first anti-unmanned aerial system (UAS) laser weapon system from Raytheon to tackle the threat of enemy drones.

The high-energy laser counter-UAS will undergo an overseas field test. The year-long overseas deployment will test the performance of the system against UASs in real-world conditions.

The airforce will also use the period to train operators on the laser counter-UAS system.

Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems president Roy Azevedo said: “Five years ago, few people worried about the drone threat. Now, we hear about attacks or incursions all the time.

“Our customers saw this coming and asked us to develop a ready-now counter-UAS capability. We did just that by going from the drawing board to delivery in less than 24 months.”

The high-energy laser weapon system features an advanced variant of Raytheon’s Multi-spectral Targeting System (MTS).

It uses electro-optical / infrared sensors to detect and track enemy drones.

Once the UAS is identified and targeted, the laser weapon system can engage the threat and neutralise it instantly, Raytheon said.

The technology involves a high-energy laser weapon system (HELWS) mounted on a small all-terrain vehicle.

Raytheon stated that a single charge is enough for the HELWS to provide ‘dozens of precise laser shots’.

Furthermore, the weapon system supports pairing with a generator on the field to provide ‘a nearly infinite number of shots’.

In August, the USAF awarded a contract to Raytheon to provide two prototype HELWS systems.

Earlier, the company demonstrated its directed energy systems for the USAF and the US Army.