Scheduled Maintenance Attention : Several of our website applications will be unavailable from Friday 05/03 08:30 PM EST through Sunday 05/05 08:30 AM EST due to Scheduled Maintenance as we work to improve performance. Thank you for your patience.

Your browser is not supported.

For the best experience, please access this site using the latest version of the following browsers:

Close This Window

By closing this window you acknowledge that your experience on this website may be degraded.

Advancing DE Weapons: Honeywell's Military Innovations

The Power Of Light: Directed Energy Technology Ready For Today’s Threats

In the ever-evolving landscape of military defense, the recent Surface Navy event shined a spotlight on an exciting development: the call for rapid fielding of directed energy (DE) technologies. These sophisticated systems, ideal for countering unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in critical engagement zones, are at the forefront of modern defense strategies. The subsequent announcement by Secretary of the Navy Del Toro, advocating increased investment in DE technologies, underscores a pivotal shift towards these futuristic armaments.

A Glimpse into the Past

Utilizing lasers to neutralize ballistic threats is not new concept. It dates back to the 1980s with the Strategic Defense Initiative, where gas lasers, comparable in size to small buildings, were the cutting edge. However, the technology had not matured enough to replace kinetic interceptors in missile defense. The pursuit of perfection continued into the 1990s and early 2000s, with chemical lasers developed under the Airborne Laser Testbed program. The landmark moment came in 2016 when fiber lasers were integrated into ground platforms through the Mobile Experimental High Energy Laser (MEHEL), featuring a 2-kW laser and a 10 cm aperture beam director – a solid-state High-Energy Laser (HEL) on a combat vehicle for the first time.

Honeywell's Pioneering Role

Honeywell, long recognized for providing power and thermal solutions for aircraft and ground vehicles, has been pivotal in the maturation of DE technologies. The successful MEHEL and follow-on Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense, or “DE M-SHORAD”, programs highlighted the innovative thermal solutions from a then-small company, Rocky Research. Recognizing its potential, Honeywell acquired Rocky Research in 2020, bolstering our portfolio with ready-to-deploy directed energy solutions.

The Thermal Challenge Overcome

DE weapons' integration into operational platforms brings about a significant hurdle: thermal control. The beam generation apparatus is highly susceptible to ambient temperature fluctuations and the intense heat produced during firing. Honeywell and Rocky Research have jointly developed a DE thermal management system that effectively mitigates this issue through burst cooling, enabled by a Thermal Energy Storage (TES) assisted vapor compression system.

The Innovations of Rocky Research

Rocky Research's solution features a Phase Change Material (PCM)-based TES that provides burst cooling of energy that is characteristic of high energy lasers. By harnessing the latent heat of fusion within these materials, the system can store significant heat in a minimal volume, easing the burden on the cooling system and enhancing overall efficiency, maintenance requirements, and lifecycle.

Advancing the Future of Military Defense

The PCM technology developed has undergone extensive characterization, design, and testing for a broad spectrum of HEL systems, exhibiting superiority over paraffin and other common methods. Our thermal energy storage capability was demonstrated in December 2023 through a U.S. Navy program. Honeywell's investment in these base materials and subsystems is critical to delivering competent systems to the U.S. military. Our commitment ensures that no ship or base is left vulnerable to unmanned aerial threats without the protective shield of directed energy.

As we march towards a new era of defense capabilities, Honeywell's collaboration with leading system integrators and defense agencies promises a safer, more secure future for our military personnel and assets. Directed energy is not just a part of modern warfare – it is the future, and it is ready now.

Don't miss out on the latest Honeywell innovations – register today to receive our newsletter.

Wesley Sparks
Directed Energy & Technology Integration

Related Content