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US Navy receives first HELIOS laser weapon for installation on a destroyer

HELIOS laser weapon USS Preble
Photo: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin announced on Thursday it delivered the 60+ kW-class high energy laser with integrated optical-dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS) to the US Navy.

HELIOS is the first tactical laser weapon system to be integrated into existing ships and provide directed energy capability to the fleet.

The system, which is scalable to 120 kW, is set to be installed onboard the USS Preble during a modernization overhaul. The ship is expected to start trials in fiscal year 2023.

The delivery of the laser for shipborne installation follows the successful trials of the system at the Navy’s Wallops Island facility in Virginia.

Lockheed initially delivered the system for land-based testing in early 2021, after being awarded a $150 million contract for the laser weapon’s development in 2018. The company completed the critical design review and navy factory qualification test milestones for the program in 2020.

According to Lockheed Martin, the multi-mission HELIOS system will provide tactically relevant laser weapon system warfighting capability as a key element of a layered defense architecture.

“Lockheed Martin and the US Navy share a common vision and enthusiasm for developing and providing disruptive laser weapon systems,” said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions. “HELIOS enhances the overall combat system effectiveness of the ship to deter future threats and provide additional protection for Sailors, and we understand we must provide scalable solutions customized to the Navy’s priorities. HELIOS represents a solid foundation for incremental delivery of robust and powerful laser weapon system capabilities.”

The high-energy fiber laser is designed to counter unmanned aerial systems and small boats. It will also deliver a long-range ISR capability and counter-UAS dazzler capability with a dazzler designed to obscure adversarial UAS-based ISR capabilities. In addition to being built into the ship’s structure, HELIOS will become an integrated component of the Preble’s Aegis combat system.