10 Oct 2022
New entity is intended to address “asymmetric threats” in the modern battlespace.Booz Allen Hamilton has announced the creation of HELworks, a developer of directed energy and high energy laser (HEL) weapon systems that are “designed to meet the needs of warfighters in the modern battlespace”.
Booz Allen has made significant investments in independent research and development projects focused on developing directed energy solutions over the past five years, based on the firm’s understanding of the U.S. Department of Defense’s needs and mission requirements. HELworks leverages Booz Allen’s 25-plus-years’ experience of directed energy expertise to optimize size, weight, and power (SWaP); to deliver enhanced military utility; and provide rapid deployment of new HEL solutions.
Susan Penfield, Booz Allen’s chief technology officer, commented, “HELworks demonstrates our ongoing commitment to meet modern warfighter needs. We have matured a portfolio of directed energy solutions and delivered systems to the warfighter for test and evaluation—and the time is right to organizationally align this capability into a structure that will enable continued innovation and development.”
Despite growing threats from asymmetric warfare, rocket-assisted munitions, drones, and more, directed energy weapon systems have consistently remained too heavy, too large, and too underpowered for widespread deployment. HELworks will leverage Booz Allen’s strong R&D investment to date with experience gained from initial HEL prototype deliveries to solve these ongoing challenges.
Three initial products
There are initially three products in the HELworks family: HEL MEP, MCHEL, and LightEngine. Each offers favorable SWaP profiles, optimizing target lethality and operational mission relevance:
Operational MCHEL prototypes have already been designed, developed, field-tested, and delivered, and HELworks is planning to conduct initial field testing of HEL MEP (including its LightEngine subsystem) in the coming months. HELworks is headquartered in Fredericksburg, Virginia, home to a design and development facility that specializes in rapid prototyping and integration of HEL systems.
There is a second HELworks facility in Knoxville, Tennessee, a 15,000-square-foot, world-class laser weapons integration facility, which features additional spaces dedicated to prototype design, development, testing, production, and integration efforts. HELworks personnel represent the best from across the industry and bring together the experience of 60 different directed energy programs over the past 35 years.
Joe Shepherd, president and CEO of HELworks, said,“HEL weapons will be key to achieving overmatch and defeating emerging threats on the modern battlefield. Booz Allen’s significant investment in HEL technology maturation and operational prototypes ensures that HELworks solutions are operationally relevant and producible at scale—ready for use by warfighters, today.”