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HELMA-P laser weapon completes first at-sea tests

The HELMA-P LDEW prototype was housed in a containerised shelter installed on Forbin's fight deck. (DGA)

France's Direction générale de l'armement (DGA), the French Navy, and CILAS (a subsidiary of ArianeGroup) have undertaken first at-sea trials of the High-Energy Laser for Multiple Application – Power (HELMA-P) laser directed-energy weapon (LDEW) demonstrator, the DGA said on 20 June.

Testing was performed from the Horizon-class anti-air warfare frigate Forbin in the Mediterranean from 12 to 14 June. Based on fibre-laser technology, the HELMA-P system had earlier completed a series of land-based evaluations during 2020 and 2021.

HELMA-P is a prototype 2 kW-class LDEW system developed by CILAS for counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) applications. The system comprises a two-axis turret mounting incorporating the laser beam director and an electro-optical sensor package for target detection, identification, and tracking.

For the recent sea trials, the demonstrator was housed in a containerised shelter installed on Forbin's fight deck, with the container oriented so as to open a firing arc on the starboard beam. A video released by the DGA showed a small hobby quadcopter UAS being launched from the ship to serve as a target. Infrared imagery subsequently showed the quadcopter breaking up after being lased by HELMA-P.

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