Lockheed Martin has begun development of the most powerful laser weapon in the second phase of the High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative (HELSI) project.
The 500 kW beam weapon is a scale-up of the 300 kW Lockheed Martin laser tested in August 2022. The goal of this phase of HELSI is to increase the laser’s power while achieving the desired beam quality and optimizing the efficiency, size, weight and volume of the power supplies.
“OUSD (R&E) has invested to mature high energy lasers in support of America’s warfighters. At the same time, Lockheed Martin has invested in our production infrastructure in anticipation of the Department of Defense’s demand for laser weapons that have additional layers of protection with deep magazines, low cost per engagement, high speed of light delivery and high precision response reducing logistics requirements,” said Rick Cordaro, vice president of Mission Systems & Weapons at Lockheed Martin. “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.”
During a test in 2022, a 300 kW Lockheed Martin laser destroyed two MQM-107 cruise missile simulators in a marching flight mode. As a reminder, Israel is also testing and integrating laser weapons into its existing air defense systems. However, the power of Iron Beam’s “laser guns” is much lower – only 100-150 kW.