Rheinmetall has tested a new laser weapon station that can carry laser weapons up to 100 kW power level and be integrated on combat vehicles. In recent tests, the system successfully engaged drones and mortar rounds at operationally relevant ranges. Suitable for ground, air, and naval operations, the assemblies are modular and scalable in design, to meet different applications.
The laser weapon station consists of four main components: the laser source, beam director with the telescope, and coarse tracker (weapon station). The system employed a beam director that has already been tested by Rheinmetall with other high-performance lasers. According to the company, it will get a new 20 kW laser source made by Rheinmetall.
In December 2018 the company conducted successful trials of the new system in which the system demonstrated the laser operation, along with the speed and precision of the weapon system assembly. The tests were conducted at the company’s Ochsenboden test center near Zürich, Switzerland.
The mobile weapon station performs the task of mechanically aiming the laser toward the target. What differentiates this system from other weapon stations are an extremely accurate mechanical aiming function, unlimited 360° traversing zone and an elevation range in excess of 270°. According to Rheinmetall, with a weapon station that meets laser weapon performance capability in hand, the company has all of the principal assemblies for a future laser weapon system at its own disposal.
The system architecture (EN DIN 61508) is closely oriented to the MANTIS counter-rocket, artillery, and missile (C-RAM) air defense system now in service with the Bundeswehr, and thus also offers interfaces for connecting it to higher-echelon air defense systems.
Rheinmetall is developing several short and very short air defense solutions based on canons and missiles, that such a laser weapon could augment. The company also collaborates with Raytheon to enhance the Patriot air defense system with these short-range gap fillers and mobile air defenses.