Lockheed Martin [LMT] this week said it is packaging a laser weapon system that is set to be installed on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Preble (DDG-88) this year.
The company’s High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) system completed testing at Wallops Island, Va., in the fall and is currently being packaged and will be shipped to San Diego for installation on DDG-88, Jeanine Matthews, a Lockheed Martin official who oversees integrated warfare systems, told reporters during the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.
The company is “very excited that it will be installed on the Preble and be out to sea later this year,” she said.
HELIOS is a 60-kW directed energy laser that aims to target unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and small boats. It also provides a counter-UAS intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) dazzler capability and feeds additional ISR data into a ship’s combat system. The system can operate in a high power setting to target threats directly or a low-power setting as a dazzler to reduce or confuse the target’s ISR capabilities.
Last year, the company first delivered the HELIOS production unit to the Navy for additional tests, which were conducted at the Surface Combat Systems Center Wallops Island, Va. (Defense Daily, Jan. 11, 2021).
Lockheed Martin underscored HELIOS is fully integrated with the Aegis Combat System.
“We’ve been working actually with [Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division] because what’s interesting about HELIOS is that it’s not simply a standalone system. It does have the initial pieces of integration to Aegis and the next steps would be basically make it one of the selections in the weapon system component of Aegis so that you could use that very seamlessly,” Matthews said.
She admitted that the Navy and company have limitations on the kinds of tests they could conduct at Wallops Island, “but we will be conducting those tests aboard the Preble. So we continue to support the Navy as they move through that process, we’ll continue to support them going to install on Preble.”
Matthews noted the current Navy contract includes a line item for production of up to nine HELIOS systems but it is approaching the end of when that can be executed.
“We are getting towards the end of…feasible things to execute, not from our standpoint but from a contractual standpoint.”
She said Lockheed Martin has also talked to the Navy on their modeling and simulation of HELIOS capabilities expanding beyond dazzling and defeating small vehicle threats.
The company has worked with NSWC Dahlgren “to show the relevance of that capability. And it’s not just unmanned aerial or surface types of vehicles that can be neutralized with that type of capability. We’re seeing capability against [anti-ship cruise missiles] with the HELIOS system as well. So we look forward to validating that further once it’s onboard the ship,” Matthews said.
When Lockheed Martin delivered HELIOS to the Navy last year, Joe Ottaviano, Lockheed Martin director of Advanced Product Solutions business division, said HELIOS can be upgraded to a higher power capability without changing the footprint. Ottaviano said the current 100 kW-class laser modules can be swapped out for modules with higher capability in the same space.
“There’s a lot of interest…on other platforms now given that we’ve shown with the existing footprint – I can just replace the fiber laser modules and the system continues to grow,” Ottaviano said at the time after the company demonstrated HELIOS at some undisclosed higher power capability than the 60 kW called for by HELIOS.
“We’re finding the 100 kW-class, the 150kW-class has significant capability against some of the most stressing threats that the Navy faces,” he said.