In simple terms, the laser makes an incredibly powerful, highly focused beam of light and aims it at a moving target. Light equals heat, and, after enough heat has been transferred, the target is compromised and crashes or blows up. The Army and Boeing (which landed a $36 million contract for the project) have been working on this for the better part of a decade, par for the course for a next-generation weapons platform.
The lithium ion batteries that power the HEL MD’s laser are charged by a 60 kW diesel generator, so if the Army can keep the fuel tank full, they can shoot down incoming threats indefinitely. The system uses a telescope and infrared-based, wide field of view camera to locate and designate targets. Boeing has designed the system to be operated by a driver and an operator with a laptop and an Xbox controller. Putting it on a truck makes the system mobile, and thus much more useful in battle situations.