In Detail: This is HELIOS, the shipborne laser weapon with which the U.S can shoot down aircraft and sink vessels.

HELIOS laser system

More and more armies are putting their money on laser weapons as another way to attack and defend. Right now, countries like Russia, which has an anti-satellite laser, and the United States have been working on it for a while.

Lockheed Martin, a leading manufacturer, has just delivered to the US Navy its latest, a High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical Dazzle and Surveillance (HELIOS).

It’s the first time this kind of tactical laser weapon system has been installed on board a fleet of warships, giving the Navy a significant new capacity.

Vice President of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Product Solutions Rick Cordaro has stated that Lockheed Martin and the United States Navy share a “common vision and passion” for developing and delivering disruptive laser weapon weapons.

We recognize the need to provide scalable solutions suited to the Navy’s requirements. HELIOS improves the ship’s fighting system’s effectiveness to deter future attacks and provide greater protection for sailors.

Using these kinds of weapons on land, sea, and air is a priority for the United States. In conclusion, Cordaro stated, “HELIOS represents a solid platform for the gradual delivery of robust and powerful laser weapon system capabilities.”

It adds a new, more effective line of defense at a fraction of the cost per shot and with the unrivaled speed of response.

Origin and capabilities 

Officially, Lockheed Martin started working on this US Navy project in 2018 when it was given the job of making HELIOS.

Because the company has worked with these kinds of laser systems before, the process has gone very quickly. After only two years, they had passed the Navy qualification test and the critical design review.

computer image system of Helios: Lockheed Martin

The Navy’s goal is to put this system on many of its attack ships, giving them a weapon that is both advanced and dangerous.

Using all 60 kW of its laser power in a test in New Jersey that same year, 2020, HELIOS showed its destructive aspect, leading to the first company acquisitions.

HELIOS triples the power of a laser weapon evaluated by the Navy eight years ago and designed to combat small boats and unmanned aircraft.

It can now sink larger ships by puncturing their hulls, engaging better-protected fighters, or considerably functioning as an anti-missile system.

This is a revolutionary new weapon system. “Laser weapon systems are no longer in the distant future; they are here now,” SalimHamid Salim. , vice president of Advanced Product Solutions at Lockheed Martin emphasized. 

Beyond the laser’s power, no information regarding its range or frequency has been disclosed. Nor do we know when they will be integrated into huge ships.

In addition to its deadly aspect, the HELIOS system incorporates a significantly less harmful mode designed to “dazzle” its targets.

This strike aims to briefly blind or disorient the target without incurring more harm. Depending on the danger sensor, various electromagnetic frequencies are employed for this purpose.

Integration inside the Aegis warfare ecosystem is one of the primary characteristics of the laser weapon. It is a cloud of information to which all troops in the field can add and get information.

A big infrastructure where everything is shared so the mission can be done as well as possible and as a centering element for defense.

Lockheed Martin identifies HELIOS’ multi-mission capability as long-range ISR. It doesn’t explain a vital aspect of a weapon that acts swiftly on distant targets.

Destroyer Arleigh Burke

The American contractor stated in early 2022 that it would install its HELIOS system on the USS Preble, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that would serve as an ideal test bed for the first laser weapon of this type.

USS Preble

One of the mainstays of the Washington, DC Navy, these destroyers have been in service for some time. It has a length of 155 meters, a width of 20 meters, and a service displacement of 9,500 tonnes.

Thanks to the four gas engines and the 100,000 horsepower they produce, it can travel 8,100 kilometers at a cruise speed of 37 kilometers per hour.

All ships in a given class are equipped with cannons that fire 127-millimeter projectiles and various machine guns stationed at various points on the deck. And yet, it is in the missile department where they truly shine.

The Tomahawk, which can strike targets at a distance of more than a thousand kilometers, is among the deadliest weapons available. 

The RIM-66M surface-to-air missiles, anti-ballistic missiles for the air shield, and other anti-submarine and anti-aircraft types supplement this system. Leaving aside the HELIOS integration.