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NEWS | Aug. 12, 2021

NSWC Crane collaborates with Warfare Centers to bring high-energy laser project to the fleet

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) collaborated with NSWC Dahlgren, NSWC Port Hueneme, Integrated Warfare Systems 2.0, Directed Energy (IWS 2.0, DE), and Lockheed Martin to bring a high energy laser control system to the Navy fleet.

The Navy is developing several ship-based weapons that could improve the Navy’s surface ships to defend against missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and surface craft. HELIOS (High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-Dazzler and Surveillance) is a new system in the Navy Laser Family of Systems (NLFoS) working to deploy capable directed energy solutions to the fleet.

The HELIOS team is focused on the rapid development and rapid fielding of a high-energy laser (with growth potential) and dazzler in an integrated weapon system to counter UAVs, small boats, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, and for combat identification and battle damage assessment.

Tyler Fitzsimmons, an engineer at NSWC Crane, works to evaluate the effectiveness of HELIOS’ low power energy capability. Fitzsimmons says HELIOS provides unique technical prowess.

“A distinguishing factor for HELIOS is it can engage with both a high-energy laser and lower power laser in the same system,” says Fitzsimmons. “Laser weapons have a lot of capability that they deliver at the speed of light and can engage at impressive ranges. It’s important to be able to have the capability of both [high and low energy] because you don’t want situations to unnecessarily escalate.”

Fitzsimmons says HELIOS can do this because of the way it uses varied technology.

The U.S. Navy has several High Energy Laser (HEL) programs. Fitzsimmons says the HEL programs span different capabilities and provide significant cost savings per engagement.

 “The Navy is building up, integrating, and fielding different laser technologies on ships. The HELIOS program merges low and high power and integrates the technology on a ship. Directed energy solutions are significantly cheaper and don’t involve the manpower and material that things like missiles require. It costs dollars or cents to use directed energy systems, which is significantly less expensive than other systems and methods. Using directed energy systems also offer versatility and rapid response time.”

He says the HELIOS team leverages a wide variety of expertise, including other Department of Defense (DoD) organizations, academia, and industry.

“Crane leverages its knowledge in low power capability, Dahlgren provides high energy laser expertise, and Port Hueneme provides test and evaluation management. We have also used external collaborations with academia to take this project to the next level. One project in particular uses machine learning to identify effects of low power directed energy events, which has resulted in a patent.”

This effort has resulted in other external collaborations, where the patent created was selected to be part the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) Defense Innovation Accelerator (DIA).  The DIA recruits entrepreneurs from a wide variety of backgrounds to develop companies around technologies from DoD laboratories.

Fitzsimmons says this is an example of the applications of the technology.

“Since we started HELIOS, there have been quite a few avenues with tools developed that have been applied to different capabilities. For the Navy, for the DoD, and in the commercial sector. The laser technology has merit in a non-government application. The Navy’s made a fantastic program and capability, making sure we are getting the best technology for the warfighter.”

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

Join Our Team! NAVSEA employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce - from students and entry level employees to experienced professionals and individuals with disabilities. We support today's sophisticated Navy and Marine Corps ships, aircraft, weapon systems and computer systems. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, IT and cyber specialists, as well as trade and other support professionals to ensure the U.S. Navy can protect and defend America. Please contact NSWC Crane Human Resources at crane_recruiting@navy.mil.