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Lockheed to develop laser mission module for US Navy littoral combat ships

Arleigh Burke-class destroyer with HELIOS laser system
Illustration: Lockheed Martin graphic showing an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer with the HELIOS laser

The US Office of Naval Research has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for the development of a layered laser defense (LLD) weapon system prototype for the US Navy’s littoral combat ship class.

Lockheed received a total of $22.4 million to integrate, and subsequently test the system while the designated vessel is underway at sea.

According to a Pentagon contract announcement, the prototype is expected to be developed in a mission module format, with the laser housed in an enclosure that would protect it from ships motion and the maritime environment.

Details regarding the laser prototype’s power or any other desired features have not been revealed.

The laser would be one of a number mission modules developed for the two classes of littoral combat ships. The class is envisioned as a flexible platform, capable of assuming different roles by embarking mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare or special warfare mission modules. The laser could eventually become part of one of the mission modules.

Lockheed Martin is expected to complete work under the contract by July 2021.

This is not the first laser weapon system the company is prototyping or developing for the US Navy. In 2018, Lockheed received a $150 million contract, with options worth up to $942.8 million, for the development of two high power laser weapon systems by 2020.

The high energy laser and integrated optical-dazzler with surveillance (HELIOS) systems will be installed onboard an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the White Sands Missile Range for testing.