Rheinmetall reports that German Armed Forces have conducted their first operational tests of high-energy laser weapon against drones
“The ARGE’s laser weapon demonstrator is integrated into a 20″ container, installed on a previously integrated frame on the deck. It was a big step in the direction of fully operational laser weapons. For the time ever, the German Armed Forces fired a shipboard laser weapon. On August 30th 2022, the German frigate Sachsen successfully 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 organised by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw). The test management was carried out by WTD 71.
“Daniel Gruber, naval demonstrator project manager at MBDA Deutschland, and
Dr. Markus Jung, in charge of laser weapon development at Rheinmetall Waffe
Munition GmbH, were on hand to observe the test campaign with the frigate.
Looking back on the integration and test phase, they drew a positive conclusion.
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