Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S), a Raytheon Technologies business, delivered the next high-energy laser weapon system to the U.S. Air Force. It will be deployed overseas for operator training and experimental testing and evaluation. Following the completion of the Directed Energy Weapon Initial Operational Employment Review and Approval Process, High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) is now certified for use in combat.
«HELWS builds directly on the feedback we received from operators in the field», said Annabel Flores, vice president of Electronic Warfare Systems at RI&S. «We’ve made the system more rugged. We improved its accuracy and overall efficiency based on real-world lessons learned in an operational environment».
This system features a number of improvements, including ruggedized enhancements to ensure transportability and survivability in a wide range of operational environments; a new beam director for more accurate targeting; and a robust power system for additional magazine depth – the ability to fire the laser for a longer period of time.
«You can take down dozens of drones on a single charge», said Flores. «And if you are plugged into a generator, you have deep, rechargeable magazines».
Mounted on a Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle, HELWS uses a variant of RI&S’ Multi-spectral Targeting System, an electro-optical/infrared sensor that detects, identifies and tracks unmanned aerial threats.
A prior version of HELWS was deployed in a forward operating environment earlier this year and recently passed 1,000 hours of operations. RI&S is contracted to deliver another further improved system to the Air Force later this year.
Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S), a Raytheon Technologies business, will build two prototype sensor payloads for DARPA’s Blackjack program, under a $37M contract. Blackjack is a low Earth orbit satellite constellation program that aims to develop and demonstrate the critical elements for persistent global coverage against a range of advanced threats. It seeks to track multiple threats simultaneously for faster and earlier warning for national security.
«Constellations offer built-in resiliency – strength in numbers», said Wallis Laughrey, Space & Command and Control communication (C2) Systems lead for Raytheon Intelligence & Space. «The entire network of satellites can continue to operate uninterrupted, even if one drops off».
RI&S is reducing integration timelines for rapid deployment, having completed Blackjack’s preliminary design review in October 2019. During preliminary design review, RI&S engaged with major subcontractors to confirm costs and ensure the team would be ready to go to production. The company is leveraging its advanced manufacturing capabilities, fast-production and commercial space programs to deliver the two sensors.
«Blackjack is innovative in its simplicity», said Laughrey. «We’ve incorporated mature tech like advanced algorithms and optics that allow us to go fast, but from day one, our primary design driver was manufacturing for cost».
RI&S’ Blackjack production will support the team for the constellation’s autonomous mission management system, Pit Boss. Pit Boss interconnects all of the data from the Blackjack satellite constellation, acting as the collection and processing hub to deliver data to the right person at the right time.
The RI&S contract goes through critical design review and support to the systems integrator for integration with Pit Boss and the space vehicle. It also includes launch campaign support and the on-orbit demonstration. Following Critical Design Review (CDR) in November 2020, DARPA has the option to order an additional eight or 18 sensor payloads.
Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business delivered the first production unit of the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, or JPALS, to the U.S. Navy 20 days ahead of schedule. This delivery follows the completion of 12 engineering development models. JPALS, a differential GPS precision landing system, guides aircraft onto carriers and amphibious assault ships in all weather and surface conditions and is integrated on the F-35.
«Landing a 15-ton fighter jet flying at hundreds of knots per hour on an aircraft carrier in rolling seas is daunting to say the least», says Matt Gilligan, vice president, Raytheon Intelligence & Space. «JPALS makes those landings simpler, safer and more precise. JPALS gives the Navy the landing accuracy it needs every time regardless of conditions. It is more than an approach and landing system – it is a safety system».
JPALS uses an encrypted datalink to connect software and receiver hardware on the aircraft to an array of GPS sensors, mast-mounted antennas and shipboard equipment, to provide surveillance, ship-relative navigation and precision approach and landing in and around the carrier-controlled airspace.
Applications for JPALS extend beyond the seas. The system has the potential to help expeditionary forces land manned and unmanned aircraft safely in any condition, anywhere. An expeditionary JPALS (eJPALS) could be used for special operations missions or guiding aircraft during humanitarian relief efforts. eJPALS would provide straight, curved and multi-segmented precision approach capabilities and has the capacity to support up to 50 different approaches to touchdown points within a 20-nautical-mile radius of the system.