U.S. Government Is Doubling Down On Laser Weapons

(PresidentialHill.com)- The 19FortyFive website reports that According to a Lockheed Martin announcement, it has delivered a 60+ kW-class high-energy laser with an integrated optical dazzler and surveillance system to the U.S. Navy, making a staple of science fiction very real (HELIOS). It gives the fleet access to directed energy and is the first tactical laser weapon system to be integrated onto existing ships. The multi-mission HELIOS system, which is integrated and scalable by design, will reportedly be able to offer tactically relevant laser weapon system warfighting capability as a crucial component of layered defense architecture.

Vice President of Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions Rick Cordaro said that Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy share a common vision and enthusiasm for developing and providing disruptive laser weapon systems. HELIOS improves the performance of the ship’s combat systems overall to fend off potential attacks and offer more excellent protection for Sailors, and we know we must offer scalable solutions tailored to the Navy’s top priorities. HELIOS is a robust platform for gradually delivering capable laser weapon system capabilities.

The major player in defense has also proposed that the HELIOS system, which can “change the game,” could assist with long-range intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations. In January 2018, Lockheed Martin received the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1 contract, also known as HELIOS. Since then, the company has steadily developed this fast Directed Energy prototype.

According to Lockheed Martin, the HELIOS system’s deep magazine, low cost per kill, speed of light delivery, and precision response “allow it to answer Fleet needs now, and its mature, scalable design supports increasing laser power levels to tackle more threats in the future.” To forward the Navy’s objective of deploying laser weapon systems aboard surface ships and positioning the Navy on the right side of the cost curve for threat engagements, HELIOS utilizes technical building blocks from extensive, long-term internal research and development programs.

As previously mentioned, the U.S. Navy has been working on numerous projects to outfit warships with laser weapons that may disrupt or destroy adversary systems for over a decade. More than $103 million was requested in the service’s fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request to support six different laser weapon concepts. Additionally, lasers have been predicted to transform warfare, particularly defense.

The cost is one of the apparent advantages. A laser uses solely electrical output, which can be produced for less than $1 per shot, as opposed to missiles, which can cost anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of dollars to create.

This most recent announcement shows that direct energy weapons have undoubtedly advanced (DEW)

A laser can be produced for less than $1 per shot, unlike missiles, which can cost anywhere from tens of thousands to millions. In 2020, the first HELIOS laser weapons system prototype was already installed on an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and the second prototype was sent to the White Sands Missile Range for in-lab testing. According to the experts, only Russia’s Zadira-16 and Israel’s Iron Beam LWS are considered widely operational high-energy laser weapons.

They added that the HELIOS system’s inclusion in the Aegis Combat System shows the U.S. Navy’s overwhelming trust in its capabilities. The multi-role LWS would be well adapted to a compact, layered air defense solution with both lethal and non-lethal effects.