Raytheon Pairs Laser Weapon with NASAMS Air Defense System

The High-Energy Laser Weapon System, mounted on a tactical military vehicle, demonstrates interoperability with the NASAMS air defense system at White Sands Missile Range. (Image: RI&S)

One of the advanced technologies Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S) is promoting at this year's AUSA Annual Meeting and exhibition is their High-Energy Laser Weapon Systems (HELWS) program. Since Raytheon deployed its first HELWS in 2019, the systems have completed approximately 400 kills, logged more than 25,000 operational hours, and successfully defeated multiple 60mm mortar bombs.

Earlier this year, RI&S, a Raytheon Technologies business, demonstrated that their High Energy Laser Weapon System can pair with the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), to stop unmanned aircraft threats. During the live-fire exercise, the HELWS received cues from the NASAMS Fire Distribution Center and used automated target cueing and a full spectrum of electro-optical/infrared sensors to track, identify and quickly take down drones at tactically relevant distances. The HELWS took down nine Group 1 and Group 2 drones over the White Sands Missile Range.

“Drone threats are particularly dangerous in any environment – from soccer stadiums to battlefields – because they’re not easy to spot and take down,” said Annabel Flores, president of Electronic Warfare Systems for RI&S. “We’re showing the world that our defensive laser weapons can plug into existing air defenses to find and drop drones in the blink of an eye.”

Representatives from multiple U.S. military and civilian agencies, as well as international ministries of defense, attended the demonstration at the White Sands Missile Range to see how the HELWS is readily interoperable with existing command and control systems. The NASAMS medium-range air defense solution, co-developed by Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, consists of the Sentinel radar, Fire Distribution Center, and a suite of effectors. The demonstration showcased the ability to integrate a counter-unmanned aircraft systems solution with NASAMS, adding to its interoperability and medium-range air defense capabilities for a layered defense.

By adding NASAMS to the list of sensors, effectors, and command and control systems the HELWS already works with, Raytheon Technologies can provide end users maximum flexibility to engage unmanned aircraft threats as part of an integrated air defense.

RI&S’ laser weapon systems, built in McKinney, Texas, work on land, in the air and at sea, providing 360-degree coverage that can protect bases, airports, stadiums and other high-value military or civilian assets. Open architecture, scalable power, and ruggedized design easily adapt to the demands of the mission. As RI&S experts will illustrate for attendees who visit their booth (#2304) at AUSA, HELWS can be used as a standalone system or rapidly installed on a variety of platforms.