Air Force getting 37 high-energy lasers to equip mini arsenal planes by 2020 - "Strict rules of engagement for the use of lasers"

07/01/2016 - 21:28

Matt Cox | Image: U.S. Air Force

The head of U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command has renewed his commitment to fielding an AC-130 “mini arsenal plane” equipped with a high-energy laser (HEL) by 2020, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold says one of his organization’s dozen AC-130W gunships at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, has been designated as the first host aircraft, and that there are ready crews and funded flight hours available for industry partners to leverage.

The aircraft does not carry the 105mm cannon installed on other operational “Stinger II” gunships—affording more size, weight and power—but any proposed laser unit will occupy the 30mm gun position forward of the wing, where airflow is less disturbed.