Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL)

Tactical High-Energy Laser 

The Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) demonstrator was designed, developed and produced by a Northrop Grumman-led team of U.S. and Israeli contractors for the U.S. Space & Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala., and the Israeli Ministry of Defense.


Located at the High Energy Laser Test Facility, White Sands Missile Range, N.M., THEL is a complete, fixed-site weapon system that includes a high-energy laser beam generator, based on deuterium fluoride chemical laser (DFCL) technologies; an acquisition, pointing, and tracking system; and a battle management system, including an organic fire control radar.

THEL was designed and built in only four years – from 1996 to 2000. Field tests began in 2000 and ended in 2005, during which time it destroyed 46 rockets, artillery and mortar rounds in flight. This included:

  • 28 Katyusha rockets, including salvos & a surprise attack
  • 5 artillery projectiles
  • 3 large caliber rockets
  • 10 mortars, including a salvo of three
  • 7 medium, 2 heavy and 1 light rockets / missiles were destroyed.

The former THEL test bed is being transitioned for use in the Army's Solid State Laser Test Bed Experiment, also located at the Army's High Energy Laser Test Facility.