The death ray has jumped off the pages of vintage sci-fi and has become a reality.
The U.S. Navy recently received a high-energy tactical laser weapon from defense contractor Lockheed Martin, New Atlas reported.
Called HELIOS – short for “high energy laser with integrated optical-dazzler and surveillance” – the new weapon has been compared to the “death ray” concept straight out of the world of science fiction.
The HELIOS can take out its target using only highly forced energy, without a solid projectile.
It’ll be used to destroy targets and counter unmanned drones and fast attack boats. The directed energy weapon can also dazzle optical sensors, and the reflected beam can gather long-range data for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
In a press release, Lockheed Martin stated that HELIOS is the first tactical laser weapon system to be integrated into existing ships as “a key element of a layered defense architecture.”
A HELIOS beam fired at the speed of light costs about a dollar per shot, and ammunition is limited only by the amount of power available, according to New Atlas.
Rick Cordaro, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of advanced product solutions, said the contractor and “the U.S. Navy share a common vision and enthusiasm for developing and providing disruptive laser weapon systems.”
“HELIOS enhances the overall combat system effectiveness of the ship to deter future threats and provide additional protection for sailors, and we understand we must provide scalable solutions customized to the Navy’s priorities,” Cordaro said. “HELIOS represents a solid foundation for incremental delivery of robust and powerful laser weapon system capabilities.”
The U.S. Army is getting in on lasers, too.
That branch is set to field vehicle-mounted 50-kilowatt lasers designed to shoot down enemy drones, as well as engage and neutralize rockets, mortars and artillery. It also has plans to mount a 20-kilowatt laser on an infantry squad vehicle to protect smaller infantry units from emerging threats.