Rheinmetall Successfully Tests High-Energy Laser Weapon

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The laser beam hitting the unmanned target.Photo: Rheinmetall Defense
Rheinmetall defense 1-kW laser weapon demonstrated in November 2011
Rheinmetall laser weapon

Rheinmetall Defense has successfully combined a powerful laser weapon with an advanced air defense system. The demonstrator systems were tested at the Ochsenboden proving ground in Switzerland where they destroyed an aerial target and engaged and defeated other targets representing other threats.

Two weapon systems participated in these tests. One device employed two 5-kilowatt laser modules integrated into a 10 kW laser based air defense system, using an Oerlikon Skyguard 3 fire control unit and a Skyshield gun turret. The second device, integrating a 1-kW laser weapon module, was mounted on a TM 170-type vehicle. The two weapon demonstrators were used in different scenarios protecting against asymmetric, terrorist-type threats; countering incoming rockets, artillery and mortar rounds; and defending against an aircraft target.

By doubling the laser output from the 5-kW of the 2010 design to the 10 kW device tested this year Rheinmetall demonstrated improved performance and reduced time to engage a target by half in the artillery, mortar and rocket scenario. In the anti-aircraft scenario the 10 kW laser successfully detected, tracked, engaged and destroyed a UAV in flight. Rheinmetall claims its modular, scalable design of the lasers is already capable to meet a variety of military weapon requirements. The company plans to have a 100-kW laser weapon available in three to five years.

Engaging a floating target, the 1-kW laser weapon demonstrator sank a moving rubber raft (substituting as a speedboat) and was also effective in destroying improvised explosive devices and in neutralizing unexploded ordnance.

The laser beam hitting the unmanned target. Photo: Rheinmetall Defense