Project multipurpose combat laser HEL (USA)

General Hawk Carlyle, head of the U.S. Air Force’s Combat Command, recently announced that the U.S. military aviation may in the very near future receive new laser weapons suitable for practical use. According to the general, this day is closer than it might seem. Indeed, one of the American projects of an air-based combat laser has achieved certain successes and may end in successful arming. The HELLADS system is currently preparing for field trials.

The development of the project HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System - "The defense system based on high-energy liquid laser") is the responsibility of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. The aim of the program is to create a promising weapon system, which is based on a laser with a liquid working fluid. The program started in the middle of the last decade. Since that time, American experts have been able to show good results. Thus, in less than ten years, the power of prototype devices has grown more than a hundred times. Existing developments are planned to be used to create weapons intended for combat aircraft and UAVs. It is assumed that such plans will be implemented over the next few years.

The basis of the project HELLADS is the so-called technology. liquid lasers. Such equipment has some advantages over solid-state or gaseous working lasers. Thus, a liquid laser equipped with a working fluid cooling system can operate continuously for a longer time compared to a solid-state one. In addition, there are some other technological advantages. However, despite the advantages, for a long time, this technique did not receive proper attention.

Project multipurpose combat laser HEL (USA)
Application of the HELLADS system drone Avenger. Figure

Preliminary work on the new program started in 2006 year at the initiative of the agency DARPA. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has received an order to study the subject of combined laser systems, which include solid-state and liquid lasers. The project received the designation HEL (High Energy Laser - "High Energy Laser"). The combination of solid-state and liquid lasers, as expected, will combine the advantages of the two systems. From the solid-state laser it was planned to take the radiation power, from the liquid one - the possibility of long-term work.

In 2007, the first prototype of the combined HEL laser system was manufactured. At that time, this device had a power level of 1 kW. By the end of the same year, another prototype showed power 15 kW. 2007 laboratory tests of the year demonstrated the vitality of the original idea, which allowed the work to continue. According to the test results in 2008, the project entered a new stage. Lockheed Martin was involved in the work. Two development companies received a common task. In the framework of joint work, they must create a promising system of aircraft armament based on new technology.

It should be noted, the agency DARPA did not focus on one project. In the fall of 2007, Textron Systems received an order to develop an alternative laser system. This company has been working on its own technology of a solid-state laser with a ceramic working medium called ThinZag. This technology was planned to be used in the new project. In the future, Textron Systems specialists were to use their laser in a promising aviation system. weapons.

According to the plans of the end of the last decade, a finished laser weapon model created by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Lockheed Martin should have a power level of 150 kW. It was expected that at the end of 2012, a prototype of the new system would be sent to the test site, where tests would begin soon. During 2013, it was planned to continue work on the creation of various auxiliary systems. The finished sample of the system, known by this time as HELLADS, was planned to be presented in 2014.

Earlier it was claimed that one of the main goals of the project is to create the most lightweight system with sufficient power. Thus, the ratio of power and weight of the structure should be at the level of 11 pounds (about 5 kg) per 1 kW of power.

Due to certain reasons, work on the project was delayed and the deadlines for the implementation of the plans shifted. However, to date, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Lockheed Martin have presented a model of a promising laser system. In April, 2015 for the first time showed to specialists and the public a model of a new weapon of the so-called HEL system. 3 generation.

In its current form, the HEL system is a container with a set of special equipment. Lithium-ion batteries, a liquid-cooling system for lasers, separate emitters, and optics to collect radiation into a single beam are installed in the general case. As part of the system shown, it is proposed to use the so-called. cells - unit cells. One such module is equipped with a 75 kW laser. Thus, by collecting several cells in one unit, you can change the total power of the entire system.

According to the developer, to date, it has been possible to ensure the optimum temperature conditions of the laser operation, which allows the system to work for a long time. An efficient cooling system provides the ability to work to fully charge the batteries without reducing the radiation power. At the moment, the duration of the continuous operation of the laser exceeds 30 with.

On the basis of the HEL system cells, various weapons can be built for different carriers. So, in the configuration for combat aircraft, the system receives the name HELLADS. According to reports of the beginning of the year, the air-based system was supposed to be tested in the summer of 2015. In the future, it is planned to carry out the refinement of these weapons and, over time, introduce into the nomenclature of weapons of modern and prospective combat aircraft.

The HEL 3 generation laser is also offered for use on warships. It is assumed that the destroyers of the type Arleigh Burke will be able to get a laser gun with two modules of power 75 kW each. Thus, the total power of a single laser complex will be 150 kW. Further, an additional increase in the power of the ship-based laser systems is not excluded.

Currently, the specialists of the companies involved in the project continue to develop and improve the systems already created. For this year, the first tests are planned in the conditions of the landfill, the results of which will determine the necessary improvements. Thus, over the next few years, American experts will be busy checking and fine-tuning the new project.

All current work should be completed by 2018, when, according to current plans, a new phase of testing of several HEL programs should start at once. It is in 2018, the year it is supposed to produce a suspension container with laser weapons, which will be tested on serial aircraft. The first carrier of a promising HELLADS system should be the unmanned aerial vehicle General Atomics Avenger. This machine will be used as a platform for conducting tests in the air.

Despite the relatively small size and take-off weight, the Avenger UAV must cope with this task. According to available data, a container with equipment with a power of 75 kW has a length of no more than 1,5 m, and its cross section fits into a square of 0,5x0,5 m. The mass of the system does not exceed several hundred kilograms. Thus, the proposed container of the HELLADS system can be transported and used both by the Evanjer and other US-made aircraft, manned and unmanned.

HEL cell sample introduced in April. Photo

Also in 2018, a prototype of the ship-based HEL laser complex should appear. Using the available opportunities, the authors of this project intend to equip the ship-borne laser installation with powerful systems of power supply, cooling, etc. Due to this, a radiation power of at least 150 kW with corresponding combat efficiency can be achieved.

Later, in the beginning of the next decade, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Lockheed Martin should complete the development of a complex based on the HEL system, designed for installation on land vehicles, from army vehicles to armored vehicles. As in the case of the aviation system HELLADS, the development of this project is associated with a number of design difficulties. The ground version of the laser weapon with the required power should have small dimensions and weight.

Laser units of the HEL family are offered as a multi-purpose weapon. Such weapons can be used to defeat various ground, air and surface targets. In this case, the range of potential targets can include both equipment and various weapons. With appropriate detection and guidance systems, HEL lasers can be used to intercept missiles, etc.

To date, the authors of the HEL project have achieved some success. In the near future, it is planned to continue the development of a promising system and bring it to the test as a weapon for ships or aircraft. Approximate dates of the beginning of tests are already defined and test carriers are selected. How will the tests and how the project will be finalized - time will tell. Nevertheless, it is possible that General H. Carlisle will be right, and the HELLADS system, and then other laser weapons, will be put into service over the next few years. In the meantime, specialists from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Lockheed Martin are working on improving existing cells and preparing advanced systems for future tests.

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  1. +1
    29 September 2015 07: 03
    The answer is not long in coming, we’ll make it smarter and more practical, but to shoot down UAVs, planes, even with a laser, even without it we can
    1. +2
      29 September 2015 10: 32
      The answer is not long in coming, we’ll make it smarter and more practical, but to shoot down UAVs, planes, even with a laser, even without it we can

      as pathetically said! in general, the answer must be given today, and not later, trying to eliminate the backlog in these developments
    2. +4
      29 September 2015 11: 30
      Quote: 31rus
      The answer is not long in coming, we’ll make it smarter and more practical, but to shoot down UAVs, planes, even with a laser, even without it we can

      The common fate of all the bouncers: whether it’s early, late, but all the same, you will certainly get into trouble.
      William Shakespeare.
      1. 0
        30 September 2015 06: 03
        the answer must be given today, and not later, trying to close the gap in these developments
  2. 0
    29 September 2015 07: 27
    Well, there is a lot of money, let them bury it, let’s not bother them!
  3. +5
    29 September 2015 09: 35
    Tired of repeating that indicating power to determine the effectiveness of weapons is clearly not enough. The power of a bomb or grenade does not result in kW, but in kg or tons of TNT equivalent, which is equal to 4184 J / g, mind you, not Watt or even kW.

    As an example, the power of one of the most powerful 2000 TW laser in the world (VIKI), and the energy released at such an amazing power is only 16 J, which is enough only for heating 1 gram of water at ~ 4 degrees. The whole trick is that this power develops at such a brief moment - 26 femtoseconds, that I only understand such shares with a reference - 10 to -15 degrees.

    Nevertheless, the article flashed "the duration of continuous operation of the laser exceeds 30 s", which at the indicated power of 75 kW suggests that the emitted energy in 30 s may be 2,25 MJ or ~ 500 g of TNT equivalent, but in 30 seconds it is not explosion ..., it is better to count it in heating some body, for example, this energy will spoil 11 liters of beer, heating it by 50 degrees.

    Enemy soldiers are enough to burn eyes, to shoot down unprotected small UAVs is already possible, but not always, for example, if an UAV weighs more than 10 kg and keeps heating more than 50 degrees.
    1. -2
      29 September 2015 10: 02
      You can burn guidance heads from enemy missiles.
      1. +2
        29 September 2015 12: 17
        Quote: BlackMokona
        The power of a bomb or grenade does not result in kW, but in kg or tons of TNT equivalent, which is equal to 4184 J / g, mind you, not Watt or even kW.

        Why (bomb power in kW)?
        Same specific explosive decomposition energy of trinitrotoluene.
        UE. Always divided by mass

        Not well if necessary (to you) - please
        1 gram of trinitrotoluene emits 1000 thermochemical calories, or 4184 joules;
        1 kilogram TNT = 4,184 · 106 J;
        Quote: BlackMokona
        As an example, the power of one of the world's most powerful 2000 TWT laser

        1. Wiki, often makes mistakes and flouts nonsense
        2. Ibid in the "wiki" NIF (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore) 192LU, with a total capacity of 500 TW. To compress the target, an ultraviolet laser pulse with a wavelength of 351 nm is used. The target temperature is up to tens of millions of degrees, while it will be compressed 1000 times.
        Pulse Duration = 3,6 · 10 ^ 6 fs

        08.10.2013 in the pulse of light from the lasers was concentrated energy in 1,8 Megajoules
        Quote: srha
        for example, this energy will spoil 11 liters of beer, heating it by 50 degrees.

        Well ... yes ... yes

        60 W

        2 кВт
        2003-The world's first laser system that performs metal cutting in an oxygen atmosphere (Laser-ASsisted OXigen, LASOX technology), mounted at Bender Shipbuilding in Alabama. It is designed for cutting steel with a thickness of 50 mm and above, which is more than twice the capacity of existing industrial laser systems. At the same time, LASOX technology allows you to cut metal using lasers of significantly lower power than in conventional laser systems.
        75 kW?
        1. +1
          29 September 2015 15: 30
          Quote: opus
          Why (bomb power in kW)?
          This is the specific energy of the explosive decomposition of trinitrotoluene.
          UE. Always divided by mass
          Here I am about this - it is impossible to assess the destructive ability, i.e. possible operation, devices, even a laser, even a bulldozer, even bombs of a specified power, another parameter is required - the time of application of this power (though there is one more parameter - efficiency, but I’m not considering it as a result of complexity yet). Understanding the destructive action requires energy, not power. I repeat for the humanities - work, not power.
          Quote: opus
          Well ... yes ... 50W
          Do you know how to post pictures, not pictures?
          Count (75 J / s * 000 s) approximately equal to - 30 4 J / (kg ° C) * 1842 kg * 10 ° C?

          Quote: opus
          1. Wiki, often makes mistakes and flouts nonsense
          how to offend VIKI would be taken and counted, it’s simple there - arithmetic at the level of an excellent student of grade 3:
          2000 TW ~ 72 J / 26 fs
          those. 2 plus another tera i.e. 000 000 000 000 multiply by 000_0,000_000_000_000
          2000_000_000_000_000 * 0,000_000_000_000_026 = 52 why not 76 shown in the table? But because the table shows the maximum, and I calculated the average per pulse. By the way, I noticed that I was mistaken and counted 76 instead of 16 a post above, but this is not critical in that case, instead of 4 grams, there will be 20.
          1. +1
            29 September 2015 17: 57
            Quote: srha
            another parameter is required - the application time of this power (although there is one more parameter - efficiency, but I’m not considering it yet due to complexity)

            time (for a laser) is given in the parameter momentum (duration), for a TNT charge (as well as for a nuclear charge) it is not essential. application time is instant (for our perception)

            For laser the area of ​​the target on which the beam affects is important, however, as for the generator. Yes, and the bulldozer is the same.
            As well as the characteristics of the target itself (its shell). The bulldozer will pass through the aircraft or LV fuselage (except for solid propellant rocket engines) without even noticing, but it will rest against the foundation wall of the house, and may not take it (from 40 cm reinforced)
            Quote: srha
            I repeat again for the humanities

            I sympathize with you that do you climb into humanitarian technology? Write like Chuvakin: "project 33", "results of the week", about "Ukraine" finally
            Quote: srha
            Do you know how to post pictures, not pictures?

            I can assume that I’m better than you.
            PROTECT turns out to be worse.

            Quote: srha
            Count (75 000 J / s * 30 s)

            where is 75kJ per second? for humanitarian reasons?
            1: Existing ultrashort pulsed lasers have reached a duration of the order of 5 femtoseconds.
            2. "norm"

            only the "specific" characteristic for equipment 5 kg / 1 kW is known from the design data, i.e. for HELLADS 75 kW = 5kgx75 = weight of the installation (20 kW COIL weighed about 3 tons)
            The truth is achieved (so far, on the previous model) due to liquid cooling instead of the planned two cubic meters of HELLADS so far takes three, with a weight of 750kg.
            The continuous operation time of a serial system should be increased to five seconds, a series of pulses naturally
            Quote: srha
            * 10 kg * 50 ° C?

            Why all this heresy about kg and beer (sports)?
            Task: during the exposure time (5 sec) the laser manages to cause a series of pulses in the target local damagedestabilizing missile flight. It loses the ability to aim at the target and / or is destroyed by the flow of air and overloads.

            What a rocket, what an aircraft: the essence of a thin-walled shell, made at the limit of strength characteristics (tare weight), which is very easily locally damaged. Further "work" is performed by the oncoming flow of the vehicle and overloads during maneuvers
            1. 0
              29 September 2015 17: 57
              Quote: srha
              arithmetic at the level of an excellent student of the 3 class:

              you have some kind of complex, or what?
              Really recently graduated from the school and sent the exam and Ildi bought a technical university diploma in the subway passage?
              These are all "posties" of course?
              30 kilowatt LaWS laser

              10 / 15 - kilowatt HEL MD

              20 Kilowatt COIL

              Well, or as an option, "cut their dough."
      2. +1
        29 September 2015 19: 42
        You still have to get into the rocket. This is not a slow drone, it is a fool with a speed of several swoops, and is actively maneuvering. Moreover, if you shoot at anti-ship missiles, then on the final part of the trajectory that you burn the head, that you don’t, the missile will not be able to miss, the ship is a big thing.
        1. 0
          30 September 2015 11: 16
          Quote: frollog
          You still have to get into the rocket.

          Here again, one has to rely on rumors from similar articles. In my memory, the response time of the guidance system to a change of situation of 3 milliseconds was delayed. That is, as far as I understand, they are led, the target has moved, after 3 milliseconds they have again gone. Speed ​​in swings is the speed of approaching a goal. Maneuvering speed is much less. And since the warhead goes almost to the laser itself, the angular velocity will also be small. With shells, supersonic missiles and UAVs, another problem is that they fly too fast, there is little time left for their destruction. Those. We need very powerful lasers. What is the whole thing gradually going.
    2. +2
      29 September 2015 12: 22
      Quote: srha
      The power of a bomb or grenade does not result in kW, but in kg or tons of TNT equivalent, which is 4184 J / g

      In this case, we are not talking about either blasting or high explosive impact. With the same success, you can translate the muzzle energy of a firearm into the TNT equivalent, it will turn out nonsense.
      1. +1
        29 September 2015 15: 51
        Quote: brn521
        In this case, we are not talking about either blasting or high explosive impact.
        In our case, the question is not in the method of influence, but in the work that can make an impact, which is measured in J. And not watts and so on. Therefore, I gave the calculation of spoiled beer.

        But if you say that the muzzle energy of a firearm is 0,5 g of TNT equivalent, competent technicians will be surprised that you are measuring in "parrots", but they will understand that this is 0,5 g * 4184 J / g, i.e. about 2000 joules or 200 kgm (the unit is accepted in Soviet reference books).
        And if you say in watts, then you will not be understood with all diligence. Therefore, it is possible to speak about the laser power in watts, but methodically and physically incorrectly speak about its possible impact in watts.
        1. 0
          30 September 2015 11: 50
          Quote: srha
          In this case, the question is not in the method of influence.

          Just the thing is in the method of exposure. We get an almost continuous stream of radiation of a certain power. Then the radiation suffers losses in the atmosphere, which again will have to be calculated in watts per meter distance. Also, the light spot increases in size, both due to optical laws and because of limitations in the guidance system. We get the characteristic W / m2. This stain affects the outlander / body. Which, in turn, have their own characteristics of scattering and heat removal - again, they can be averaged in W / m2. As soon as we can exceed this threshold, then we will talk about the energy that will have to be reported to the shell in order to destroy it. But again, W / m2 multiplied by the exposure time will appear here. By this time, so many parameters have already been counted into the calculation that the power of the laser itself says little, there are many other parameters. Further, in addition to destroying the skin, we may need to damage its filling as well. Here again, either J or W / m2, depending on the characteristics of this filling. For example, the TNT from the hole burnt in it will be neither hot nor cold, if only the detonator would not be hit. The cumulative ammunition will change the geometry of the explosion and the effectiveness of penetration will decrease. Well, a thermonuclear warhead will definitely be disabled, turning into a small dirty bomb.
  4. 0
    29 September 2015 09: 36
    All in star wars will not play enough .......
    1. -1
      29 September 2015 10: 26
      Well, the program ended successfully, now they are developing what was received on it. Railguns, lasers, etc.
      Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) - A long-term research and development program announced by US President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983. The main goal of the SDI was to create a scientific and technical reserve to develop a large-scale missile defense system (ABM) with space-based elements that excludes or limits the possible destruction of ground and sea targets from space.
  5. 0
    29 September 2015 12: 12
    So we will collect gossip and rumors drop by drop. Now the weight has been designated, 5 kg per 1 kW. Those. there’s no talk of tens and hundreds of tons.
  6. +1
    29 September 2015 12: 23
    Ah, what a name for him was invented by political marketers. )
    HELL-ADS - hellish announcements.
  7. 0
    29 September 2015 16: 15
    Quote: Serge Boss
    Well, there is a lot of money, let them bury it, let’s not bother them!

    I agree. I am not particularly good at physics, but it is known that the laser has a rather low efficiency and a powerful laser does not work in the atmosphere as a means of destruction due to the "collapse" effect. From which it follows that this is really a waste of money (unless, of course, the project is real, and not an attempt to drag someone into the arms race).
  8. -1
    29 September 2015 18: 30
    Article plus, written competently and exhaustively. For the first time I got any idea of ​​the mass of combat lasers - 5kg / kW.

    For lasers, it is important what energy (in joules) per square millimeter (or centimeter) is given over a certain distance. The radiant energy decreases very quickly - inversely proportional from the square of the distance to the source. So on 1,4 m. It will be half as much, on 2 m. - four, on 10m. - 100 times, at 100 m - already 10 000 times less than at the output of the device. At 100 m. From 150 kW, 15 Watts will remain, which will be dangerous only to the unprotected eyes of enemy soldiers, but not very through the sun glasses.
    1. 0
      30 September 2015 10: 40
      Quote: ivanovbg
      Article plus, written competently and exhaustively.

      There is even no talk of exhaustion, but there is a lot of material, more than usual.
      Quote: ivanovbg
      The radiant energy decreases very quickly - inversely proportional from the square of the distance to the source

      Apparently, for this part, the comrades made cons. This is applicable for a point source scattering its power over the surface of a sphere. A laser has a beam with a certain discrepancy with a distance, but not so strong. And how much - depends on the design. The environment and the dispersion in it have a much greater influence.