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Directed-Energy Weapons Come of Age
Directed-Energy Weapons Come of Age
Directed energy is a breakthrough technology whose time has come. The U.S. Army confirmed in June that it is accelerating efforts to field a directed-energy weapon prototype by 2022. First up is the Multi-Mission High Energy Laser, a 50-killowatt retrofit to a modified Stryker vehicle, which is expected to be operational in 2023.
On a larger scale, the U.S. Military also is working with other services, agencies and industry partners to advance the science behind directed-energy technology by developing more powerful solid-state laser and high-powered microwave weapons with energy levels of 100 kW and beyond. Other directed energy initiatives are being pursued worldwide.
The advantages of these kinds of weapons are obvious. Directed-energy weapons offer speed-of-light engagement for national defense, homeland security and law enforcement. They can be used in either a nonlethal or lethal mode. They have both long- and short-range capabilities and they offer the flexibility, power and unlimited magazines to counter threats ranging from ballistic and cruise missiles, to unmanned aerial systems and small boats.
Honeywell scientists, engineers and technologists are diligently working on enabling technologies critical to the successful deployment of directed-energy applications. We have many decades of experience in power generation, energy storage, pointing and stabilization, power and thermal management, and other essential technologies. With expertise in all these fields, Honeywell brings the broadest portfolio of enabling technologies to the aerospace and defense industry.
Power generation is a Honeywell strong suit. We’ve produced more gas turbine engines than any other manufacturer, including nearly 100,000 auxiliary power units for military and civilian aircraft of every type. Honeywell offers the aerospace and defense industry’s most complete line of power systems, with capabilities ranging from 1 kW to 1 MW.
We recently developed a prototype 400 kW hybrid-electric turbogenerator that combines our proven HTS900 engine with two compact generators, each capable of powering more than 40 American homes with the air conditioning running full blast. With the highest power density in the aerospace and defense industry and a compact package, our new 400 kW generator is ideal for directed-energy weapon applications.
We also provide the Power and Thermal Management System (PTMS) for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which integrates a conventional auxiliary power unit, environmental control system and emergency power system into a single integrated system. We’re adopting these field-proven technologies for use in the directed-energy space.
With more than six decades of experience in engines, power systems and related technologies, comes a strong background in modeling, simulation and testing that can help original equipment manufacturers design tomorrow’s directed-energy systems.
Honeywell pointing and stabilization technologies are used on a wide range of spacecraft, aircraft and land vehicles. We pioneered development of inertial measurement units in the 1990s and were the first to combine IMUs with global navigation satellite system capabilities to improve accuracy and reliability, even when GPS signals are unavailable.
Our IMU/GNSS technologies will enable directed-energy weapons to acquire and lock onto their targets. Honeywell sensors can detect the slightest vibrations in a vehicle or other platform on which a weapon is mounted. These measurements are fed into a control system, which stabilizes the platform. IMUs like our new and highly accurate HG4930 S-Class sense the roll, pitch and heading of the vehicle and provide real-time data that enables the platform to compensate for movement.
Directed energy is one of Honeywell’s breakthrough initiatives. We have established a dedicated directed-energy team and aligned our product roadmaps with customer priorities to make sure we’re working on the right things at the right time. Working with a number of partners, we’re determined to help make the long-promised potential of directed-energy weapons a reality.