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Booz Allen launches HELworks directed energy weapons business

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:

  • HEL MEP: The High Energy Laser Mission Equipment Package is a conjoined kinetic and non-kinetic weapon system designed for use in Stryker armored vehicles. HEL MEP brings together LightEngine by HELworks; a beam director and weapon fire control/tracking/targeting system by Blue Halo; and the Reconfigurable Integrated-weapons Platform (RIwP®), a kinetic weapons turret by Moog.
  • MCHEL: The Modular Compact High Energy Laser is designed for static-on-static ground engagements. MCHEL is a complete HEL system tailored to the precision-strike mission set, equipped for firing times up to 1 minute at up to 12 kW of power. Features of this system include a modular configuration that can be moved and assembled by a two-operator team; a transportable solution with rugged cases that fit into relevant vehicles for expeditious movement; and, most fundamentally, the smallest, lightest, and most portable HEL weapon for its use case.
  • LightEngine: Booz Allen’s breakthrough, low-SWaP LightEngine is a fully integrated and risk-reduced meta-subsystem consisting of power, cooling, lasers, control, and integrated packaging. It supports deep-magazine capability with minimal impact to and demand from the platform itself and can be easily integrated with third-party beam combinations, beam directors, and other components.

Field testing

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.”

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