Germany Conducts First Operational Tests of Anti-Drone Laser Weapon

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 06:52 AM, October 28, 2022
  • 1282
Germany Conducts First Operational Tests of Anti-Drone Laser Weapon

A German frigate for the first time fired a high-energy laser weapon meant to defeat drones during recent drills held in the Baltic Sea, Rheinmetall announced today.

On August 30, the frigate Sachsen engaged drones at short and very short range in the Baltic Sea near Putlos Major Training Area. The laser weapon demonstrator was developed by the High-Energy Laser Naval Demonstrator working committee (ARGE), consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH.

Future high-energy laser (HEL) weapon systems for the Navy will be especially useful in defending against drones and drone swarms as well as engaging attacking speed boats at close and very close range. But the system can also be designed for greater output, enabling it to destroy guided missiles and mortar rounds.

The joint integration and test phase of the naval demonstrator started in November 2021, which the ARGE integration team concluded with a successful factory acceptance test at Rheinmetall’s Unterlüß proving ground. The demonstrator was then installed onboard the frigate Sachsen in Kiel. In July 2022 the first test campaign took place in Eckernförde Bay near the Bundeswehr’s Technical Centre for Ships and Naval Weapons, Marine Technology and Research, WTD 71, in Surendorf.

During the trials, the capabilities of various sensors, including the electro-optical sensor suite from the ARGE and the radar, were verified. In addition, the interplay between all the components and procedures in the entire operational sequence from target acquisition to engagement was put to the test. The trials included multiple highly realistic engagement scenarios. The test planning and the provision of various types of targets on land, at sea or from the air were carried out and organized by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw). The test management was carried out by WTD 71.

Testing of the high-energy laser weapon will continue until mid-2023. In subsequent test campaigns, new scenarios will challenge the demonstrator’s capabilities. Not least, the results will determine what still needs to be done on the path to a fully functional, operational laser weapon.

Effector-related tasks in the ARGE are basically evenly divided. MBDA Deutschland is taking care of target detection and target tracking, the operator console and linking the laser weapon demonstrator to the command-and-control system. Rheinmetall is responsible for the slewing system, the beam guidance, the demonstrator container as well as mechanical and electrical integration of the demonstrator onto the deck of the Sachsen, and finally for the high-energy laser source, including its periphery.

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