More Than a Laser, HELIOS is an Integrated Weapon System

More Than a Laser, HELIOS is an Integrated Weapon System
January 09, 2021

The High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance, or HELIOS, provides the U.S. Navy with game-changing directed energy capability through integration of high energy laser and optical dazzler technology into the ship and combat system. More than just a high energy laser, The HELIOS system’s multi-mission capabilities include long range Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) and Counter UAS-mounted ISR (C-ISR) Dazzler.

The HELIOS system’s deep magazine, low cost per kill, speed of light delivery, and precision response enable it to address Fleet needs now and its mature, scalable architecture supports increased laser power levels to counter additional threats in the future. HELIOS leverages technology building blocks from significant, long term internal research and development projects that continue to advance the Navy’s goal for fielding laser weapon systems aboard surface ships and putting the Navy on the right side of the cost curve for threat engagements.

Marinized: extended at-sea operations

Flexible: fast, graduated response

Powerful: precise engagement, deep magazine

Affordable: favorable cost exchange ratio

Reliable: mature technology

Upgradable: modular open architecture

Lockheed Martin was awarded the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, known as HELIOS, contract in January 2018 and has made steady progress on this rapid Directed Energy prototype which will be delivered later this year.

In 2020, Lockheed Martin completed the Critical Design Review and Navy Factory Qualification Test milestones, demonstrating the value of system engineering rigor and proven Aegis system integration and test processes on the way to delivering an operationally effective and suitable laser weapon system that meets the Navy’s mission requirements. During factory testing in Moorestown, New Jersey, HELIOS routinely demonstrated full power operation above 60 kW. The scalable laser design architecture spectrally combines multiple kilowatt fiber lasers to attain high beam quality at various power levels. 

“System engineering rigor, robust system integration and test, and leveraging of mature technology are cornerstones of the successfully executed HELIOS program and enable on-time delivery of warfighting capability and significant risk reduction for future systems,” said Joe Ottaviano, Lockheed Martin Business Development director. “together with our exceptional Navy-industry partnership, we are leveraging industry-leading laser technology and decades of ship integration and combat system integration expertise.”

In early 2021, the U.S. Navy will field test the Department of Defense’s first acquisition program to provide warfighters with permanent laser weapon system capability. While it will be initially integrated into an operational West Coast-based Arleigh Burke Flight IIA destroyer with the Aegis Combat System, HELIOS is also adaptable to other ship types and combat systems, such as aircraft carriers and big-deck amphibs with the Ship Self-Defense System (SSDS).

“Completing these significant critical milestones for the HELIOS team and the U.S. Navy brings us much closer to delivering the system to the Navy and providing the Fleet with the capability to counter unmanned aerial threats and fast attack boats today. This puts us on the path to counter anti-ship cruise missiles in the future,” said Hamid Salim, vice president, Advanced Product Solutions at Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. “This is a transformational new weapon system. Laser weapon systems are no longer years away; they’re here now.”


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