US Navy takes delivery of tactical Lockheed Martin laser weapon

US Navy takes delivery of tactical Lockheed Martin laser weapon
Artist's concept of HELIOS in action
Artist's concept of HELIOS in action
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The HELIOS laser weapon installed
The HELIOS laser weapon installed
Artist's concept of HELIOS in action
Artist's concept of HELIOS in action

The age of the ray gun is almost upon us after the US Navy took delivery of a near-operational high-energy tactical laser weapon called the High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) system from Lockheed Martin that can be installed in existing warships.

When the first laser was invented by Theodore Maiman at the Hughes Research Lab in Malibu, California, in 1960, it was almost immediately seen as a potential superweapon – the death-ray of science fiction come to life.

While the ability to generate beams of coherent light provided scientists and engineers with a unique tool that would revolutionize many fields over the next six decades, producing a practical laser weapon turned out to be more difficult than first imagined. Today, the development of solid-state lasers based on coils of fiber optic cables doped with exotic elements like yttrium have finally moved the laser weapon from the laboratory to the battlefield.

The HELIOS laser weapon installed
The HELIOS laser weapon installed

The HELIOS 60-plus-kW-class multirole laser weapon will not just be deployed as an experiment aboard a US Navy ship as in previous tests, but as an operational tactical system that can be fully integrated into ship operations and can be scaled to meet mission requirements. Like other laser weapons, HELIOS can project a beam at the speed of light against multiple targets for about a dollar a shot, not counting equipment costs, and has an unlimited supply of ammunition so long as power is available.

Where HELIOS differs is that it can not only be used to destroy targets, it can also to dazzle optical sensors and the reflected beam can gather long-range data for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) applications. According to Lockheed, this makes HELIOS a key element of a layered defense architecture for fleet protection.

"Lockheed Martin and the US Navy share a common vision and enthusiasm for developing and providing disruptive laser weapon systems," said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions. "HELIOS enhances the overall combat system effectiveness of the ship to deter future threats and provide additional protection for sailors, and we understand we must provide scalable solutions customized to the Navy’s priorities. HELIOS represents a solid foundation for incremental delivery of robust and powerful laser weapon system capabilities."

Source: Lockheed Martin

Nice. Been a long road to get lasers operational, but it can finally start paying dividends.
Lamar Havard
In a gun fight, a 'near-operational' gun is a paperweight...or a hammer. Does the thing work, or not?
I guess that would imply "NO"
I had a non operational car once. It WAS operational when I bought
it but it became non operational soon after.
"60-plus-kW-class" isn't that powerful. If it put out a beam in the megawatt range,that would be more useful for anti-ship missile defense,for example. 60 kw would just get an incoming missile toasty before it slammed into the ship.
Amusing to see the armchair expert comments. Also amusing -

"Lockheed Martin and the US Navy share a common vision and enthusiasm for developing and providing disruptive laser weapon systems," said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions.

Haha, yah, as long as the US taxpayers are paying, Lockheed Martin will certainly share a “common vision and enthusiasm!” Seriously, these guys should listen to themselves. Would they still have that same enthusiasm if the US taxpayer were not buying? ;-)
I say mount it in an Abrams tank and use them to hit ordnance and fuel depots from a distance.
Marco McClean
I'm saving up for the tactical robot-dog-backpack-launched flying Cuisinart. And the tactical bees and spiders. I already have the tactical socks, tactical alarm clock, tactical lavalier microphone, tactical cheese, and special tactical knife-hammer to cut a seatbelt and break the window out in case of skidding into a lake.

The face of the laser turret thing in the second image down looks like a death-ray-spewing robot in /Laputa: Castle In the Sky/. That's probably not a coincidence. Also, they can sweep this thing around the horizon and permanently blind anyone facing the boat in a radius of fifty miles. That will occur to someone at the controls and before anyone can stop them they'll have pressed the switch to try it, mark my words, while you can still see to read them.
The laser being given the name "dazzler" makes my logical bones hurt. It shouldn't just dazzle nav on the incoming birds, it should fry them in a millisecond or less. Wait for mega or terawatt lasers, Navy. They'll have them fully operational by then, eh?
Cheap hand held lasers have been blinding pilots for years. Imagine getting a shot in the eyes by a 60KW weapon. How effective will that pilot be? Will they recover quickly?
While yes, I wish it was more powerful, it does have double the power of laser installed on the USS Ponce back in 2014. FYI, it's called 60+, because it's scalable to eventually be a 120kW laser.
This will be super effective against small boats & small drones, and in the future, can get upgraded.
Also, they said "near operational" because it will get installed later on the Preble this year, and sea tests are planned for 2023.
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