Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy successfully conducted a Critical Design Review (CDR) for the HELIOS (High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance) laser weapon system.
With the completion of CDR, the laser weapon system is one step closer to be integrated onto a Navy Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer.
“Our adversaries are rapidly developing sophisticated weapons and the threats to the U.S. Navy’s fleet are getting more challenging,” said Hamid Salim, vice president, Advanced Product Solutions at Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. “Our warfighters need this capability and capacity now to effectively counter threats such as unmanned aerial systems and fast attack vessels.”
This year, HELIOS will undergo system integration in Moorestown, New Jersey — the home of Aegis Combat System development for 50 years. The HELIOS system will then be tested at the Wallops Island Navy land-based test site which will significantly reduce program risk before being delivered to a shipyard for integration into an Arleigh Burke destroyer – likely USS Preble (DDG-88) – next year.
In addition to being built into the ship’s structure, HELIOS will become an integrated component of the ship’s Aegis combat system.
“HELIOS will provide an additional layer of protection for the fleet—deep magazine, low cost per kill, speed of light delivery, and precision response. Additional HELIOS systems will accelerate the warfighter learning curve, provide risk reduction for future laser weapon system increments and provide a stronger demand signal to the supply base,” said Brendan Scanlon, HELIOS program director, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems.
In 2018, Lockheed Martin received a $150 million contract, with options worth up to $942.8 million, from the U.S. Navy for the development, manufacture and delivery of two high power laser weapon systems.
Lockheed Martin’s HELIOS system is a 60-kilowatt laser system with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and counter-Unmanned Aerial System (counter-UAS) capabilities. The company claims that the system has a “growth potential” to 150 kilowatts.
According to Lockheed Martin, HELIOS combines three key capabilities, brought together for the first time in one weapon system:
• A high-energy laser system: The high-energy fiber laser will be designed to counter unmanned aerial systems and small boats. The energy and thermal management system will leverage Lockheed Martin experience on Department of Defense programs, and the cooling system will be designed for maximum adaptability onboard ships. In addition, Lockheed Martin will bring decades of shipboard integration experience, reducing risk and increasing reliability.
• A long-range ISR capability: HELIOS sensors will be part of an integrated weapon system, designed to provide decision-makers with maximum access to information. HELIOS data will be available on the Lockheed Martin-led Aegis Combat System.
• A counter-UAS dazzler capability: The HELIOS dazzler will be designed to obscure adversarial UAS-based ISR capabilities.
The U.S. Navy is developing multiple laser weapon systems under the larger Navy Laser Family of Systems (NLFoS) effort. In addition to the HELIOS program, the NLFoS effort also includes Solid-State Laser – Technology Maturation (SSL-TM), Ruggedized High Energy Laser (RHEL), and the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN) programs.
The SSL-TM is designed for amphibious assault ships, while ODIN, like HELIOS, is designed for guided-missile destroyers. The are currently no plans to install the RHEL system on naval vessels.
The SSL-TM Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (SSL-TM LWSD) was installed onboard San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD-27) while the first ODIN Counter-UAS laser weapon system was installed on the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105).