Compact High Energy Laser (HEL) Beam Director
Navy SBIR 2019.1 - Topic N191-025
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam -
Opens: January 8, 2019 - Closes: February 6, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Compact High Energy Laser (HEL) Beam Director


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Electronics, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: SEA073, Advanced Submarine Systems Development

OBJECTIVE: Develop an affordable, single-aperture, atmospheric-correction, compact beam director system for a High Energy Laser (HEL) weapon to be employed by a US Navy platform.

DESCRIPTION: HEL weapon employment would support covert operations and early warning for a carrier battle group as well as self-defense of Navy platform and friendly special operating forces. Previous beam directors developed for land-based or airborne use are too large for Navy platform use and not submersible. The Navy has a need for compact, agile HEL weapon beam directors, with an aperture size of approximately 12 inches with 360-degree Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) imager for target tracking and queuing, that greatly reduce the weight and volume of existing HEL weapon beam director systems while providing the ability to maintain extremely accurate movement of the optical elements so that the laser intensity is maintained on target. To maintain Navy platform force levels in the future funding environment, weapon system affordability must be addressed upfront as a major design consideration. Proposals in this area should address the following areas: (1) Opto-mechanical design of the compact beam director compatible with existing/future Navy platform mast configurations; (2) innovative optics and control system that either adapts to or otherwise mitigates the effects of thermal blooming and other turbulent phenomena; (3) control or removal of beam jitter caused by on-board vibrations; and (4) integration with current/future mast configurations. The HEL beam director is required to have the following: (1) capability to handle >100kw average optical output power; (2) -30 - +80 of altitude training range; (3) 360 of azimuth training range; (4) 1 radian training accuracy relative to an inertial reference; (5) structures and components must remain operable through 20 G shock acceleration; and (6) a housing that must withstand fluid pressure to 100 psi without leakage and must isolate the beam director optics from the maritime environment.

The Navy seeks a field prototype with Deformable Mirror (DM) for adoptive correction of the turbulence and jitter control hardware to demonstrate Navy platform mast integration into HEL weapon targeting capability - both azimuth and elevation. The technology will be evaluated for the potential for integration into surface ship, helicopter, or Army configurations and platforms for higher energy levels (optical power > 300 kw). The technology will demonstrate accurate target tracking with positive feedback target lock-in, short acquisition time, multiple target selection, and wave-front correction. The field prototype design will build on and leverage multiple ongoing projects, including submicro-radian closed loop boresight sensing, beaconless wave-front control, and wrinkle-proof deformable mirrors for atmospheric turbulence correction of the beam propagation through marine wave boundary.

The Phase II effort will likely require secure access, and NAVSEA will process the DD254 to support the contractor for personnel and facility certification for secure access. The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information. If need be, data of the same level of complexity as secured data will be provided to support Phase I work.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been be implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DSS and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for a compact beam director system for a HEL weapon. Demonstrate feasibility through modeling and simulation. Develop a Phase II plan. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop the required technology into a prototype and demonstrate that it meets the requirements in the Description. Address all of the key drivers (i.e., mechanical design of the structure and bearings, operation through turbulence, haze and thermal blooming, and aim-point selection and maintenance through haze) for the beam director. Test and refine the prototype into a technology that the Navy can use.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Integrate the field prototype design into Virginia class Universal Modular Mast (UMM) or a 688 class (Los Angeles Class) type 8 periscope mast. Provide a potential road map for the integration of the beam director on other DoD platforms, such as surface ship/helicopter/Army. It is expected that demonstrating a laser beam director meeting the stated requirements will result in a wide range of applications both for DoD and commercial industries.

The commercial market includes laser communication and electrical power generation through light (power beaming) at remote locations.


1. Cook, Joung R. "High-energy laser weapons since the early 1960s." Optical Engineering 52(2), 021007, 5 October 2012.

2. Albertine, John R. and Merritt, Paul H. "Beam control for high-energy laser devices." Optical Engineering 52(2), 021005, 3 October 2012.

3. Abeysinghe, D. C., Haus, J. W., Heikenfeld, J., and Smith, N. R. "Agile wide-angle beam steering with electrowetting microprisms." Opt. Express 14,
6557-6563, 2006.

4. Buske, I. and Walther, A. "Setup of a beam control system for high power laser system at DLR." Proc. SPIE 9989, 99890R, 2016.

5. Ostaszewski, M., Harford, S., Doughty, N., Hoffman, C., Sanchez, M., Gutow, D., and Pierce, R. "Risley prism beam pointer." Proc. SPIE 6304, 630406, 2006.

KEYWORDS: BD; Beam Director; HEL; High Energy Laser; MBE; Model Based Engineering; Field Prototype with Deformable Mirror; DM; Submicro-radian Closed Loop Boresight Sensing; Opto-mechanical Design of the Compact Beam Director; Compact Beam Director



These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2019.1 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2019.1 BAA SBIR pre-release on November 28, 2018, which opens to receive proposals on January 8, 2019, and closes February 6, 2019 at 8:00 PM ET.

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