DARPA intends to award a 24-month contract to either or both of the HELLADS developers – General Atomics and Textron Defense Systems – to build and ground-test a 150 kilowatt laser compatible with the requirement for a weapon-system weight of 750kg.
The goal of the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program is to develop a high-energy laser weapon system (150 kW) with an order of magnitude reduction in weight compared to existing laser systems. With a weight goal of < 5 kg/kW, HELLADS will enable high-energy lasers (HELs) to be integrated onto tactical aircraft and will significantly increase engagement ranges compared to ground-based systems. The HELLADS program has completed the design and demonstration of a revolutionary subscale high-energy laser that supports the goal of a lightweight and compact high energy laser weapon system. An objective unit cell laser module with integrated power and thermal management is being designed and fabricated and will demonstrate an output power of >34 kW. A test cell that represents one-half of the unit cell laser has been fabricated and used to characterize system losses and diode performance and reliability. The test cell is being expanded to a unit cell. Based on the results of the unit cell demonstration, additional laser modules will be fabricated to produce a 150 kW laser that will be demonstrated in a laboratory environment. The 150 kW laser will then be integrated with an existing beam control capability to produce a laser weapon system demonstrator. The capability to shoot down tactical targets such as surface-to-air missiles and rockets will be demonstrated.