Target for Military Laser

Potential military uses for lasers have attracted both government funding and popular interest. While laser ”ray guns” remain in the realm of science fiction, significant research has been conducted toward that goal. In the 1980s, tests of a deuterium-fluoride (or DF) chemical laser were conducted at the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal. A chemical reaction created the energy necessary to generate a laser beam. As this object shows, that beam can be quite powerful.
In 1985, the Army transferred this test target to the Smithsonian. The target consists of six steel plates, each about 2 mm thick, bolted together. A hole of decreasing diameter is burned through the target from front to back. Information provided with the target reported that a 130 kilowatt laser illuminated the target from a distance of 60 meters for 5 seconds.
Currently not on view
Object Name
laser target
date made
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
overall: 5 in x 6 in x 5 1/4 in; 12.7 cm x 15.24 cm x 13.335 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Energy & Power
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from the U. S. Dept. Of the Army; Army Missile Command
Additional Media

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