Booz Allen creates laser weapon business unit 'HELworks'

13 October 2022 2 min. read
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Booz Allen Hamilton has launched HELworks, a business unit focusing on high-energy laser (HEL) weapons systems.

Based in Fredericksburg, VA with an additional facility in Knoxville, TN, HELworks gathers together several directed energy projects from throughout Booz Allen. The unit has approximately 50 staff.

Booz Allen has more than 25 years of experience working on directed energy, from providing technical expertise for HEL programs to developing government prototypes. In the last five years, the consultancy has focused more investments on its own internal directed energy solutions that fit Department of Defense (DoD) guidelines.

“We have matured a portfolio of highly relevant directed energy solutions and delivered systems to the warfighter for operational test and evaluation—and the time is right to organizationally align this capability into a structure that will enable continued innovation and system development in a highly focused way,” said Susan Penfield, Booz Allen’s chief technology officer.

Booz Allen creates laser weapon business unit 'HELworks'

The company has already designed, developed, field-tested, and delivered a product – the Modular Compact High Energy Laser (MCHEL). With an output of 12 kw and designed for static-on-static ground engagements, Booz Allen says the system is the smallest, lightest, and most portable HEL weapon for its use case.

Directed energy weapons has been a nascent market for many years, but has recently been a growing priority for the Pentagon. The US Army, Navy, and Air Force are all advancing HEL projects this year.

If mastered, directed energy weapons offer a cheaper way to destroy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and munitions than with traditional kinetic weapons.

“HEL weapons will be key to achieving overmatch and defeating emerging threats on the modern battlefield,” said Joe Shepherd, president and CEO of HELworks. “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. We are proud to be on the forefront of innovation and mission-focused leaders in this area.”