How Laser Solutions Help Us Stay on Target
Along coastal regions lingers the fearsome hammerhead shark whose peculiarly shaped head and superior sensory skills have made the species a long-feared predator of the water, but now the land is looking at its own Hammerhead™.
For over four decades, Lockheed Martin has collaborated with our customers to research, develop and deliver a laser weapon system that offers the advantages of speed, flexibility, precision and a lower cost-per-engagement compared to traditional kinetic energy solutions.
“The directed energy market is growing rapidly and changing how we do things,” said Lockheed Martin Laser Weapon System Program Manager Rebecca Hoover. “It provides our customers with a renewable opportunity to take down threats at a lower cost-per-engagement.”
Rebecca oversees the development of Hammerhead, Lockheed Martin’s first ground-based beam director that enables high-powered lasers to lock in on and defeat targets. Hammerhead is engineered to augment force survivability provided by existing systems to better defend warfighters and critical assets against forward-advancing airborne threats, including drones, rockets, mortars and artillery fire. The system is currently suitable for integration on ground-platforms and has a maturation plan to transition into the air domain.
“This is just the beginning,” Rebecca said. “We want to look at how we can continue to grow our capabilities. As we add to the air domain and continue to grow in these markets, we’ll be able to bring that larger directed energy solution to the field.”
Digitizing the Next Level of Layered Defense
Through the adoption of digital engineering, we’re arriving at the point where we can defend against incoming missiles and reach out over long distances to destroy ballistic missiles threats faster than what was previously thought possible. The use of model-based systems engineering and simulations enables Rebecca and her team to make early design iterations and better align the technology with the oncoming threat. This shortens the design lifecycle and improves product reliability and program affordability for our customers.
“We’ve been through a lot of challenges throughout the program’s development,” admitted Rebecca. “It looks like the technology is emerging now, but the team has worked through many years to develop solutions to overcome those challenges to get to where we are today.”
Lockheed Martin’s Layered Laser Defense (LLD) weapon system is a result of robust systems engineering combining the most agile architecture for modularity and scalability. Our lasers can enhance existing systems and provide wide area protection in various environments. Building on a strong history of combat system engineering and radar excellence, our laser weapon systems enable our customers to adopt a multi-domain defensive approach.
Pushing the Art of the Possible
The rapid evolution of Hammerhead and emerging laser weapon system technologies is only possible because of the people who push the boundaries of innovation. When she sets her mind to things, Rebecca has a habit of making them happen.
Over her 16-year career with Lockheed Martin, Rebecca has climbed the professional ladder from an entry-level engineer to a program manager. As a kid, she enjoyed math and science, but it was her unfading fascination with the fast and loud that drew her to a career in aerospace engineering. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Rebecca joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter team.
“It was a total dream job,” she shared. “What new college graduate wouldn’t want to work on the brand new fighter jet?”
While working, Rebecca found the flexibility to complete a master’s degree in engineering management from Oklahoma State University and start a family with her husband and three children. Every day, Rebecca is expanding on what’s possible for herself and the next generation of women in engineering.
Today, women make up only about 16.5% of engineers globally, but that number has grown significantly in recent years thanks to eager innovators like Rebecca who are striving to change the industry for the better.
“Being a female engineer is a great opportunity,” she said. “There are no limits to what women can accomplish in the workplace. I would encourage young women with interests in math and science to challenge themselves to design something new, innovate and become part of a blended team that makes us better every day. ”
Lockheed Martin has taken great strides to increase gender diversity in the workplace. Through our partnerships with Girls Inc. and Million Girls Moonshot, we are inspiring young women to achieve as engineers, scientists and leaders. Women Engineer Magazine recognized these efforts and the professional opportunities Lockheed Martin provides to women by ranking the company third on the magazine’s 2022 “Top 50 Employers” list.
“When I talk to other women interested in engineering and STEM, I can’t emphasize enough to dream big,” Rebecca said. “Be confident in your abilities and seek out a supportive network of mentors and others who can help you to achieve success.”
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