Frigates and radars and lasers, oh my god! In terms of naval systems, Lockheed Martin is perhaps best known for its integrated Aegis weapon system. He is now looking to integrate lasers to give the US Navy more pew pew at sea. But perhaps the greatest current opportunity is the US bid for the modernization of the Hellenic Navy. Jon Rambeau from the company tells us more.
Berenice Healey: What is your role in integrated warfare systems and sensors?
Jean Rambeau: I run a group that mainly does four things; Ship Systems Delivery – the work we do on the Littoral Combat Ship or Multi-Mission Surface Combatant for Saudi Arabia. We make the combat system; the biggest piece there is the Aegis combat system that we provide to the US Navy and international navies.
We manufacture radar systems; it’s naval radars, ground radars, missile defense radars for the Missile Defense Agency, and a bit of airborne radar work. The fourth is an exciting new area around Directed Energy or Laser Weapon Systems, and it’s about more prototyping activity right now that we hope will lead to bigger projects over the course of the year. time.
Greece begins its program to modernize the Hellenic navy. What is the role of Lockheed Martin in the American offer?
We are by far the largest portion of the US foreign military sale offer to competition. Our part of that is going to be dealing with upgrades to their existing Neko-class frigates and building four new frigates, which we’ve called the Hellenic Future Frigate or HF2.
The US Navy also offers three years of full support for each of the new ships after delivery, and we will be a part of that.
There is also what is called the Interim Solution, and it is a request by Greece for certain ships to be supplied by this prosperous country which would allow them to fill the gaps until the arrival of the new capacity.
What are the latest in next generation Spy 7 radar technology?
We are nearing the end of the delivery of the Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) for the Missile Defense Agency in Alaska, which is going quite well.
The LRDR is made up of building blocks the size of a shoebox that you can fit into a board as large as you want. The great thing about this tech is that you can configure it to pretty much any aperture size you like depending on the app. We have taken this technology and applied it to other applications and received the designation of Spy 7.
We have had success with Spain and Canada. More interestingly, in Japan we started with a land configuration and now it has moved on to a maritime application. We’ve had some success in international markets, and each of them is slightly different, but all of them are built on the same common backbone of technology.
What’s new with the Aegis combat system?
We have over 250 US warships deployed with Aegis and over 50 in international fleets. We continue to work in partnership with the US Navy and the Missile Defense Agency in providing air and missile defense capabilities. It’s a strong three-way partnership.
The big goal that we have now is that we are working on a new version called Baseline 10. We are also in the process of working to evolve the way we deliver our capabilities.
We know DevSecOps to deliver smaller capacity increases on a more frequent basis, so we’re undergoing a big transformation in that regard and we’re working really hard with the US Navy to make this trip together.
What directed energy, or laser, weapon projects are you working on?
There are two really exciting projects, one for the US Navy and one for the US Army. The one in the US Navy is called HELIOS [high-energy laser with integrated optical-dazzler and surveillance] and it’s gone from the factory to a testing environment and we’re starting to go through some serious testing.
We’ve had a bit of a delay in having the range time available to do some of the testing and calibration of that, but we’ve been working on these issues now with the Navy and other government agencies involved, and we’ve been in able to start this testing process. As soon as we’re done, we can sell the HELIOS system to the US Navy; that’s about a 60 kW laser.
What is unique is that it is designed to fit directly into a DDG [Arleigh Burke-class destroyer] and one of the US Navy ships is the USS Preble. We have worked hard to integrate the laser weapon system into the Aegis combat system to create control as part of the ship’s overall combat capability. It’s very different from a lot of other programs which are strictly more prototype in nature; it is designed to be an integrated part of the ship’s combat capability.
Now it’s 60 kW and so the conversation has been how to increase that capacity? We designed it to be around double, around 120kW, with a very minimal design, just adding what we call fiber laser modules into this system. To go above 120, we’ll need to make more substantial design changes.
That of the army is a much larger system; 300kW. We are working with Lieutenant General Thurgood, Director of Rapid Capabilities in the Office of Critical Technologies and he is tasked with rapidly developing this 300 kW as a mobile ground application. We are developing the laser capability as well as the beam director and deep beam control systems that align and use the laser.
We also partner with a company called Dynetics, based in Huntsville, Alabama, which works on electrical and thermal systems to help us put everything together. We will do a first laboratory demonstration in 2022 and a field demonstration by 2024.
The theme of this year’s DSEI is multi-domain integration. How does Lockheed Martin work there?
Our company has made a lot of progress by partnering with the whole company under the “One LM” policy. We’ve made huge strides first under Marillyn Houston and now under Jim Taiclet, our new CEO, who is very determined to bring us all together.
He’s also very focused on a vision of what he calls 21st century fighting. The premise is that the war in the future will have to be fought differently if we are to stay ahead of our adversaries. It means taking what’s already in our customers’ stocks and using them more efficiently, making them more connected. How do you start to take advantage of all these strengths as an integrated capability, how do you take advantage of commercial technologies?
Jim Taiclet has spent time in the world of commercial telecommunications and therefore has been a big supporter of engaging commercial companies across the United States to be part of our future strategies. We invented a concept within Lockheed Martin, which is 5G.mil. How do you harness the emerging 5G capability that exists commercially and militarize it? How do you make it safe, secure and encrypted so that it can be used as a military network to support this 21st century concept of combat?
We have been very involved in many demonstration activities as the military services sought to launch experiments for the future. We have participated in the recent Northern Edge, Talisman Saber and Valiant Shield. We tried to invest in experimentation, as a way to get where our clients thought they needed to be in the future and help them find a way to get there.