The Armys first and only battlefield laser system is back.In 2003, the Army sent ZEUS, a Humvee armed with a 10kw solid-state laser, to Afghanistan, to blast mines and other explosives left over from years of war. In the six months ZEUS spent there, the laser-hummer zapped over 200 pieces of unexploded ordnance, according to the Army, "at one point setting a record for ordnance disposal by negating 51 pieces in less than 100 minutes."Now, ZEUS "is being forward deployed" again, Army Space and Missile Defense Command Lt. Gen. Larry Dodgen tells Defense Daily."According to spokesman at Headquarters, Department of the Army, ZEUS is in Iraq as part of a three-vehicle convoy protection concept being evaluated now," DD adds.ZEUS uses a pair of lasers to sizzle its targets, according to Sparta, Inc., the vehicle's maker. A joystick-controlled green Nd:YAG laser is used to designate the target. One it's locked, an invisible high-power Nd:YAG laser swerves around, to heat the sucker up.
The system uses diesel fuel to create the laser beam, which focuses energy on the outer casing of the target, which heats up until it detonates, [triggering] a less violent explosion than if the explosive was activated, causing less damage to the surrounding area...Its power level and utility is new and is not for aerial targets, its for unexploded ordnance, Dodgen said. It is a system that works, and we certainly would like to use it whenever possible.