The US Navy will test the laser-based HELIOS system for permanent vessel deployment early this year, Lockheed Martin has announced. A weapon system that utilizes high-energy fiber lasers, HELIOS can be used to counter drones and fast attack boats.
Once integrated, the High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler will become the only deployed military laser system in the world.
The system will initially be integrated into an Arleigh Burke Flight IIA destroyer with the Aegis Combat System, although it is adaptable to a range of ships, including aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious vehicles which include the Ship Self-Defense System.
HELIOS will provide the navy with directed energy capability through integration of high energy laser and optical dazzler technology into the ship and combat system, the statement said.
The system is currently equipped to ward off threats from unmanned aerial systems and fast attack boats. However, in the future, developers are confident that the system could be scaled up to the level of countering cruise missiles.
Apart from its offensive functions, HELIOS is equipped with long-range Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.
“Completing these significant critical milestones for the HELIOS team and the US 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,” said Hamid Salim, vice president, Advanced Product Solutions at Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. “This puts us on the path to counter anti-ship cruise missiles in the future.”