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Welcome to HEL: U.S Army developing drone-killing laser weapon

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The US Army has for the first time successfully tested a vehicle-mounted laser that managed to shoot down incoming mortar rounds and drone aircraft, officials said Thursday.

Installed in a dome-shaped turret atop a military vehicle, the high-energy laser hit more than 90 mortar bombs and several small unmanned planes over a six-week test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The experimental weapon, dubbed the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), likely would not be operational until 2022 if the Army decides to purchase the system, according to officials.

The weapon, with three to five lasers, is designed to protect remote bases from mortar, artillery or rocket fire. Such attacks were frequent against “forward operating” bases in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.

The laser used in the test this month had a strength of 10 kilowatts (kW), but the program will next use more powerful lasers of 50 kW and then, finally, 100 kW, officials said.

“If you’re engaging a target at the same range, a 100 kW laser will destroy the target in one-tenth of the time than the 10kW would,” said Terry Bauer, a program manager at Boeing, the lead contractor on the project.

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In the test at White Sands, the laser was fired at 60mm mortar rounds, which have a range of 2,000 to 3,000 yards (1,800-2,700 meters).

Without providing a detailed account, officials said the laser scored a “significant success” against the mortar rounds and several drones.

“The system is capable of rapidly acquiring with the radar these very small targets and point a laser beam about the size of a quarter and destroy the targets while they’re flying,” said Mike Rim, a second program manager at Boeing.

A more advanced version of the weapon will eventually be able to knock out objects moving much faster than the mortar rounds, such as cruise missiles, according to military officials.

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The military has invested in a variety of laser weapons over the past several years with mixed results.

The US Navy is due in 2014 to equip a ship converted into a “floating base,” the USS Ponce, with a laser capable of destroying small boats or surveillance drones.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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‘Finally #MuellerTime’: Internet celebrates Mueller’s upcoming public testimony on Russia investigation

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On Tuesday, the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees announced that special counsel Robert Mueller will publicly testify about the Russia investigation's findings before Congress.

Quickly, the internet reacted to the news:

This will really matter, even if Mueller merely repeats what he said in his report. The vast majority of Americans have never read it. https://t.co/ZuRHqbRAEv

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Robert Mueller subpoena isn’t a ‘friendly one’: Intelligence Committee Chair tells Maddow

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Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) joined with Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in subpoenaing former special counsel Robert Mueller. But according to Schiff, this wasn't exactly an agreement the committees came to with Mueller or the special counsel's investigators.

"We consistently communicated our committees' intentions to issue these subpoenas if necessary and we now understand it is necessary to do so. Should we see this as a friendly subpoena that Robert Mueller believed had to be issued before he could accept an invitation to testify?" asked MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

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Mueller agrees to testify in public about Russia investigation after House Democrats issue subpoena: report

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On Tuesday evening, CNN reported that former special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify in public about the Russia investigation, following subpoenas from House Democrats.

"The House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee announced ... the special counsel has agreed to appear in public on July 17th in an open session to testify about what he found as a part of his two-year investigation into Russian interference, as well as potential obstruction of justice in the White House," said CNN reported Manu Raju. "Now, they say in this letter, both the chairmen of these committees, Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff, that they have subpoenaed Bob Mueller and he's agreed to testify under subpoena."

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