Lockheed to Scale Up ‘Highest Powered’ Laser Weapon to 500kW

Lockheed Martin has announced it is upgrading the most powerful laser weapon it has ever produced to a new benchmark: 500 kilowatts (kW).

The project, part of the company’s High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative (HELSI), will involve its existing 300 kW-class laser delivered to the US Department of Defense last year.

According to the Maryland-based firm, the HELSI will increase the laser’s power level, efficiency, and size, while also improving its beam quality.

Upgrading the directed-energy weapon will also reportedly reduce the risks associated with deploying the technology for future use.

“[Lockheed] has invested to mature high energy lasers in support of America’s warfighters,” company vice president Rick Cordaro said.

“The 500-kW laser will incorporate our successes from the 300-kW system and lessons learned from legacy programs to further prove the capability to defend against a range of threats.”

Glimpse of Upgraded Laser

According to Lockheed, its new 500 KW-class laser will be tactically configured to effectively support combat missions.

It will incorporate the Pentagon’s Modular Open System Approach to ensure interoperability and smooth multi-mission integration.

Cordaro described the weapon as providing an additional layer of protection for various military infrastructures and assets.

Despite scaling up to 500 kW, Lockheed said it will still offer low cost per engagement, high-speed delivery, and high-precision response to military customers.

“This HELSI milestone exemplifies Lockheed Martin’s commitment to develop advanced technologies that provide speed and agility to Joint All-Domain Operations,” the company stated.

Lockheed's 500 kW-class laser
Conceptual rendering of Lockheed’s 500 kW-class laser weapon. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Previous Milestones

Before Lockheed decided to scale up its highest powered laser, the company had achieved several milestones in developing military-grade, high-performance directed-energy weapons.

Earlier this year, the company’s DEIMOS laser weapon achieved first light in a laboratory demonstration, verifying its optical performance.

It also delivered the first laser weapon mounted on a tactical aircraft to the US Air Force.

The technology will be used to counter a wide variety of airborne threats, including aircraft, surface-to-air, and air-to-air missiles.

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