The High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) is a US defence programme to develop a high-energy laser-based weapon system to defend against surface-to-air threats. The programme aims to develop a 150kW laser system to counter ground threats such as rockets, artillery and mortar (RAM), and surface-to-air missile attacks. The high-power lasers are expected to counter multiple threats as the beams can travel at the speed of light.
The HELLAD system will be first tested and demonstrated on static ground installations, before later integration onto the tactical aircraft of the US Air Force (USAF). The USAF aims to arm its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and bombers such as the B-1B with the HELLADS lasers.
The weapon system can also be mounted on armoured combat vehicles, surveillance aircraft and patrol ships. Precise targeting by lasers is expected to reduce collateral damages.
The first prototype of the HELLADS is expected to be ready by the end of 2012. It will be tested at the White Sands Missile Range in early 2013, where the system's air-to-ground offensive missions will also be simulated.