Military

Lightweight High-Energy Liquid Laser (HELLADS) prepared for live fire tests

Lightweight High-Energy Liquid...
HELLADS is primarily intended as an air-to-ground laser weapon
HELLADS is primarily intended as an air-to-ground laser weapon
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HELLADS is designed to be installed in tactical aircraft
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HELLADS is designed to be installed in tactical aircraft
HELLADS is primarily intended as an air-to-ground laser weapon
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HELLADS is primarily intended as an air-to-ground laser weapon
The live-fire tests will be carried out at the White Sands Missile Range
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The live-fire tests will be carried out at the White Sands Missile Range
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A high-power laser weapon light enough to be carried by tactical aircraft has moved out of the laboratory and onto the testing ground. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' High-Energy Liquid Laser Defense System (HELLADS) has finished its US Government Acceptance Test Procedure and is on its way to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico for live-fire tests.

Laser weapons have made great strides in recent years, but one of the most sought after goals has been to marry high power to light weight so the system can be installed in aircraft and other very mobile platforms. The result of a DARPA program, the all-electric HELLADS punches a 150 kW laser, yet is only a tenth the size and weight of comparable systems.

DARPA's brief for HELLADS was for a high-powered air-to-ground laser that could be installed in a tactical aircraft. It had to weigh under 5 kg (11 lb) per kW, and have a volume of 3 cubic meters (105 cubic ft). According to General Atomics, this required the development of second- and third-generation laser systems based on specialized laser materials and optics, as wells as improved manufacturing methods.

HELLADS is designed to be installed in tactical aircraft
HELLADS is designed to be installed in tactical aircraft

The result is an all-electric 150-kW laser weighing under 2,000 lb (907 kg). General Atomics says that this is the world record for the highest laser output power of any electrically-powered laser, yet has notably low power consumption, and required the creation of the world’s highest brightness laser diodes, a compact battery storage system, and thermal storage systems

For the White Sands tests, HELLADS will be in a ground-based configuration and set against military targets for Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (CRAM), and counter-air and counter-missile roles. If the system demonstrates the needed beam quality, laser power, efficiency, size, and weight, it will go on for further development. General Atomics says that when deployed, HELLADS could be installed not only in aircraft, but in patrol ships and armored combat vehicles.

“HELLADS represents a new generation of tactical weapon systems with the potential to revolutionize sovereign defenses and provide a significant tactical advantage to our warfighters,” said Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics. “It is remarkable to see high-power laser technology mature into an extremely compact weapons system and be deployed for field tests. It will be even more remarkable to witness the impact that this will have on U.S. Defense capability.”

Source: General Atomics

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20 comments
mhpr262
These combat laser systems are really taking off now (pun intended). Feed them with power generated by thermoelectric elements wrapped around the exhaust tubes of the turbines and supercapacitors and you have unlimited ammo with no fuel penalty. 150kw should easily be enough power to detonate IEDs while they are being buried by terrorists, or RPG grenades being carried by Taliban, or mortar grenades. Or melt the tires off terrorist getaway vehicles without endangering innocent bystanders.
MBadgero
I'll wait for the car-mounted version in a James Bond movie.
Derek Howe
Awesome, future battles will have Very little collateral damage.
PeterSillavan
Use the force Luke. LOL
Daishi
There was an article here in 2003 about the 10kWh HEL MD laser that mounted on the back of a large truck: http://www.gizmag.com/hel-md-vehicle-mounted-laser-test/30116/
The same system used a 1kW laser in 2009 and the article mentioned that the 10kW version (2013) was for testing and 50kW and 100 kW version were eventually planned.
China also had a fairly large 10kW anti UAV laser. A 150 kW laser under 2,000 lb is amazing but it's also probably more power than is required for many types of targets. From here I wonder how well the technology will scale down to lower powered lasers.
It could make for a very portable 20kW system or in groups 5x30kW lasers could deal with a volley of missiles. It might not be as effective against some targets as a 150 kW version but if they all hit the same target I still wouldn't want to be the target.
BG59
Things like this are just fascinating to me, I hope I live long enough to see it all become ordinary, everyday stuff.
Antony Stewart
To they measure it in Candela? how many candels is one Hellads burst?
Simon Sammut
no more ammunition is the holy grail. As long as you have power you have defense. But this brings other problems like, power supply.
Τριαντάφυλλος Καραγιάννης
All well and good, but what does 150kW mean practically? Does a 2 sec exposure just punch a hole through a tire or through an entire vehicle?
Martin-tu
So this is how the 'War of the Worlds Death Ray' finally enters our increasingly deadly reality, life imitating art. How chilling.