The US Air Force has received a High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) to fight against drones. A prototype had provided the required proof of performance in over 1,000 hours of operation since the beginning of last year. Subsequently, the HELWS had been certified and a further production order had been placed. The HELWS technology will also be deployed in key regions outside the US for operator training and experimental testing and evaluation.

Raytheon has mounted the weapon system in the rear of a Polaris MRZR. A 360-degree rotating head directs the laser beam onto the target and the integrated power supply enables dozens of firings, according to the company. Connected to a standard 230-volt mains supply, unlimited operation is possible. The multi-spectral targeting system – used in the large MQ-1 PREDATOR and MQ-9 REAPER drones – is used for target reconnaissance and tracking.

Transport capability and survivability have been improved in the latest version of the HELWS on MRZR for additional operational environments. A new laser beam guidance system enables more accurate target acquisition and the robust power supply system extends mission duration when no mains power is available.

Gerhard Heiming