Lockheed Martin to Develop HELIOS Laser Weapon Systems for U.S. Navy
By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $150 million contract, with options worth up to $942.8 million, for the development, manufacture and delivery of two high-power laser weapon systems, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and counter-unmanned aerial system (counter-UAS) capabilities, by fiscal 2020.
With the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) system, Lockheed Martin will help the Navy take a major step forward in its goal to field laser weapon systems aboard surface ships, the company announced in a March 1 release.
In this first increment of the U.S. Navy’s Surface Navy Laser Weapon System program, Lockheed Martin will deliver one unit for shipboard integration on an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and one unit for land testing at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
“Lockheed Martin’s spectral beam combined fiber lasers bring flexibility and adaptability to defensive and offensive missions,” Dr. Rob Afzal, senior fellow of laser weapon systems, said in a release. “Our design is scalable, and we can optimize it to meet requirements for future increments.”
During a teleconference following the contract announcement, Afzal described HELIOS as “a watershed moment. We’re crossing out of science and technology and building real technology for the Navy.”
He said the 60- to 150-kilowatt HELIOS system was more capable and powerful than the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) the Navy developed and tested from 2014 to 2017 aboard the Afloat Forward Staging Base Interim USS Ponce until it was decommissioned last fall. LaWS is slated to be moved on to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland for further testing.
“HELIOS has a great range and shorter defeat times,” Afzal said, “and it is designed to be integrated into the ship, not just carried by a ship,” as was the case with LaWS.
According to the company, 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 UAS 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 HELIOS award leverages technology building blocks from internal research and development projects, including the ATHENA system and ALADIN laser, as well as contract experience gained from programs such as the U.S. Army/Directed Energy Joint Technology Office Robust Electric Laser Initiative program, the U.S. Air Force Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments program and the U.S. Navy High Energy Fiber Laser program, according to Lockheed Martin.
“The HELIOS program is the first of its kind, and brings together laser weapon, long-range ISR and counter-UAS capabilities, dramatically increasing the situational awareness and layered defense options available to the U.S. Navy,” Michele Evans, vice president and general manager of Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors, said in the release. “This is a true system of capabilities, and we’re honored the Navy trusted Lockheed Martin to be a part of fielding these robust systems to the fleet.”