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Go to HELLADS

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced on May 21, 2015 that the High-Energy Liquid Laser (HELLADS) completed the U.S. Government Acceptance Test Procedure and is now being shipped to the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico. At WSMR, the laser will undergo an extensive series of live fire tests against a number of military targets.

The recently certified Generation 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3 × 0.4 × 0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms
The recently certified Generation 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3 × 0.4 × 0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms

The HELLADS Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS) is designed to demonstrate the efficacy of a tactical laser weapon in Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (CRAM), Counter-Air and Counter-Missile applications, as well as a number of special applications. The 150 kW Class HELLADS laser has been developed over a number of years to create a completely new approach to electrically powered lasers with sufficiently low size, weight, and power consumption to enable deployment on a number of tactical platforms.

«HELLADS represents a new generation of tactical weapon systems with the potential to revolutionize sovereign defenses and provide a significant tactical advantage to our war-fighters», said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. «It is remarkable to see high-power laser technology mature into an extremely compact weapons system and be deployed for field tests. It will be even more remarkable to witness the impact that this will have on U.S. Defense capability».

The HELLADS laser was developed through a series of stage/gate phases beginning with a physics demonstration and progressing through a series of laser demonstrators at increasing power levels. At each stage, DARPA required beam quality, laser power, efficiency, size, and weight objectives to be demonstrated. The program also developed the world’s highest brightness laser diodes, compact battery storage, and thermal storage systems, and improved the manufacturing process and size of specialized laser materials and optics.

The HELLADS DLWS holds the world’s record for the highest laser output power of any electrically powered laser. Doctor Michael Perry, vice president of Laser and Electro-Optic Systems for GA-ASI, credits DARPA with a unique capability to foster, nurture, and support such a development. «The HELLADS team of program managers, technical support, and DARPA senior management has worked to address the challenges of developing a completely new technology. Additionally, if it were not for the hard work of our scientists and engineers, we could not have succeeded. This is the most challenging program that I have been associated with», said David Friend, HELLADS Program Manager, GA-ASI. «This program has advanced the state-of-the-art in so many areas».

The pioneering HELLADS DLWS represents the first generation of the technology. Through other U.S. Government programs separate from the DARPA-supported work, GA-ASI has demonstrated, second and third Generation versions of the technology, which significantly increase the efficiency and reduce the size, weight, and power consumption for the system while increasing the beam quality.

The third Generation system is currently being incorporated into a Tactical Laser Weapon Module designed for integration into both manned and unmanned aircraft systems. «Even as we begin development of the fourth Generation system, I am looking forward to seeing HELLADS perform in the live fire tests», said Doctor Perry. «The laser technology is a means to an end. What matters is the new and cost-effective capability that we can bring to our country».

Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300-kilowatt laser output levels
Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300-kilowatt laser output levels

Generation 3 HEL

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced (8 April, 2015) that an independent measurement team contracted by the U.S. Government has completed beam quality and power measurements of GA-ASI’s Generation 3 High Energy Laser System (HEL) using the Joint Technology Office (JTO) Government Diagnostic System (GDS).

The capability to shoot down tactical targets such as surface-to-air missiles and rockets will be demonstrated
The capability to shoot down tactical targets such as surface-to-air missiles and rockets will be demonstrated

«These measurements confirm the exceptional beam quality of the Generation 3 HEL, the next-generation leader in electrically-pumped lasers», said Claudio Pereida, executive vice president, Mission Systems, GA-ASI.

The new laser represents the third generation of technology originally developed under the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS, Generation 1) program. The goal of the HELLADS program was to develop a high-energy laser weapon system (150 kW) with an order of magnitude reduction in weight compared to existing laser systems. The Generation 3 Laser employs a number of upgrades resulting in improved beam quality, increased electrical to optical efficiency, and reduced size and weight.

General Atomics’ third-generation tactical laser weapon module is sized to be carried on its Avenger unmanned aircraft
General Atomics’ third-generation tactical laser weapon module is sized to be carried on its Avenger unmanned aircraft

The recently certified Generation 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3×0.4×0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms.

The Generation 3 HEL tested is a unit cell for the Tactical Laser Weapon Module (TLWM) currently under development. Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300-kilowatt laser output levels.

Enemy surface-to-air threats to manned and unmanned aircraft have become increasingly sophisticated, creating a need for rapid and effective response to this growing category of threats
Enemy surface-to-air threats to manned and unmanned aircraft have become increasingly sophisticated, creating a need for rapid and effective response to this growing category of threats

The GDS was employed by an independent measurement team to evaluate the beam quality of the Generation 3 system over a range of operating power and run time. According to JTO’s Jack Slater, «The system produced the best beam quality from a high energy laser that we have yet measured with the GDS. We were impressed to see that the beam quality remained constant with increasing output power and run-time».

With run time limited only by the magazine depth of the battery system, beam quality was constant throughout the entire run at greater than 30 seconds. These measurements confirm that the exceptional beam quality of this new generation of electrically pumped lasers is maintained above the 50-kilowatt level.

Following this evaluation, the independent team will use the GDS again to conduct beam quality measurements of the GA-ASI HELLADS Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS). The HELLADS DLWS includes a 150-kilowatt class laser with integrated power and thermal management.

Features/Benefits:

  • lightweight and compact;
  • increased engagement range;
  • counters tactical targets.
The HELLADS programme involves development of a 150 kW laser weapon system to counter ground threats such as RAM and surface-to-air missiles
The HELLADS programme involves development of a 150 kW laser weapon system to counter ground threats such as RAM and surface-to-air missiles

Four Reapers
for the Netherlands

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Netherlands for MQ-9 Reapers and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $339 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.

An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, piloted by Col. Lex Turner flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)
An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, piloted by Col. Lex Turner flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)

The Government of the Netherlands has requested a possible sale of:

  • 4 MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft;
  • 4 Mobile Ground Control Stations Block 30 (option Block 50);
  • 6 Honeywell TPE331-10T Turboprop Engines (4 installed and 2 spares);
  • 2 SATCOM Earth Terminal Sub-System;
  • 6 AN/DAS-1 Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems (MTS)-B;
  • 4 General Atomics Lynx (exportable) Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving;
  • Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI) Systems, w/Maritime Wide Area Search capability;
  • 2 Ruggedized Aircraft Maintenance Test Stations;
  • 20 ARC-210 RT-1939 Radio Systems;
  • 8 KY-1006 Common Crypto Modules;
  • 8 Ku-band Link-Airborne Communications Systems;
  • 4 KIV-77 Mode 4/5 Identification Friend or Foe;
  • 4 AN/APX-119 Mode 4/5 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Transponder (515 Model);
  • 14 Honeywell H-764 Adaptive Configurable Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Guidance Units (EGI) with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) (12 installed and 2 spares).

Also provided are an Initial Spares Package (ISP) and Readiness Spares Package (RSP) to support 3400 Flight Hours for a three year period, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated cost is $339 million.

The Netherlands is one of the major political and economic powers in Europe and NATO and an ally of the United States in the pursuit of peace and stability. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist the Netherlands to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This potential sale will enhance the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability of the Dutch military in support of national, NATO, UN-mandated, and other coalition operations. Commonality of ISR capabilities will greatly increase interoperability between U.S. and Dutch military and peacekeeping forces.

The Netherlands requests this capability to provide for the defense of its deployed troops, regional security, and interoperability with the U.S. The proposed sale will improve the Netherland’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing improved Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance coverage that promotes increased battlefield situational awareness, anticipates enemy intent, augments combat search and rescue, and provides ground troop support. The Netherlands will have no difficulty absorbing this additional capability into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractor will be General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. in San Diego, California. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale may require U.S. contractor representatives to make multiple trips to the Netherlands and potentially to deployed locations to provide initial launch, recovery, and maintenance support. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

A maintenance Airman inspects an MQ-9 Reaper in Afghanistan Oct. 1. Capable of striking enemy targets with on-board weapons, the Reaper has conducted close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. (Courtesy photo)
A maintenance Airman inspects an MQ-9 Reaper in Afghanistan Oct. 1. Capable of striking enemy targets with on-board weapons, the Reaper has conducted close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. (Courtesy photo)

 

MQ-9 Reaper

Designated as MQ-9 Reaper by its U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force customers, the turboprop-powered, multi-mission Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) was developed with GA-ASI funding and provides significantly greater capabilities than Predator. First flown in 2001, Predator B is a highly sophisticated development built on the experience gained with GA-ASI’s battle-proven Predator UAS and a major evolutionary leap in overall performance and reliability.

Featuring unmatched operational flexibility, the multi-mission Predator B has an endurance of over 27 hours, speeds of 240 KTAS (Knots True AirSpeed)/276 mph/444 km/h, can operate up to 50,000 feet/15,240 m, and has a 3,850 lbs (1,746 kg) payload capacity that includes 3,000 lbs (1,361 kg) of external stores. Twice as fast as Predator, it carries 500% more payload and has nine times the horsepower. Predator B provides a long-endurance, persistent surveillance/strike capability for the war fighter.

An extremely reliable aircraft, it is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture. Predator B is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.

Predator B is powered by the flight-certified and proven Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine, integrated with Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC), which significantly improves engine performance and fuel efficiency, particularly at low altitudes.

The Predator B multi-mission aircraft is highly modular and is easily configured with a variety of payloads to meet mission requirements. Predator B is capable of carrying multiple mission payloads to include: Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR), Lynx Multi-mode Radar, multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), laser designators, and various weapons packages.

Aircrews perform a preflight check on an MQ-9 Reaper before it takes off on a mission in Afghanistan Oct. 1. The Reaper is larger and more heavily-armed than the MQ-1 Predator and attacks time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, to destroy or disable those targets. (Courtesy photo)
Aircrews perform a preflight check on an MQ-9 Reaper before it takes off on a mission in Afghanistan Oct. 1. The Reaper is larger and more heavily-armed than the MQ-1 Predator and attacks time-sensitive targets with persistence and precision, to destroy or disable those targets. (Courtesy photo)

 

Characteristics

Wing Span:                                      66 feet/20 m

Length:                                              36 feet/11m

Height:                                               12.5 feet/3.8 m

Powerplant:                                    Honeywell TPE 331-10

Thrust:                                                900 shaft horsepower maximum

Weight:                                              4,900 pounds/2,223 kg empty

Max Gross Takeoff Weight:  10,500 lbs/4,763 kg

Fuel Capacity:                                3,900 lbs/1,769 kg

Payload Capacity:

850 lbs internal/386 kg

3,000 lbs external/1,361 kg

Cruise speed:                                  around 200 knots/230 mph/370 km/h

Range:                                                1,000 NM/1,150 miles/1,850 km

Ceiling:                                               Up to 50,000 feet/15,240 m

Weapons:

Hellfire missiles

GBU-12 laser-guided bombs

GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition)

GBU-49 laser-JDAM

Payloads:

MTS-B EO/IR (Electro-Optical/Infrared)

Lynx Multi-mode Radar

Multi-mode maritime radar

Automated Identification

System (AIS, Aeronautical Information Service)

SIGINT/ESM (Electronic Support Measures) system

Communications relay

Power:                                               11.0 kW/45.0 kVA (Block5) (redundant)

An MQ-9 Reaper sits on a ramp in Afghanistan Oct. 1. The Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained at deployed locations, while being remotely operated by pilots and sensor operators at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. (Courtesy photo)
An MQ-9 Reaper sits on a ramp in Afghanistan Oct. 1. The Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained at deployed locations, while being remotely operated by pilots and sensor operators at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. (Courtesy photo)

 

Features:

  • Triple-redundant flight control system
  • Redundant flight control surfaces
  • Remotely piloted or fully autonomous
  • MIL-STD-1760 stores management system
  • Seven external stations for carriage of payloads
  • C-Band line-of-sight data link control
  • Ku-Band beyond line-of-sight/SATCOM data link control
  • Over 90% system operational availability
  • C-130 transportable (or self-deploys)