The German Navy has successfully concluded trails of a laser weapon demonstrator (LWD) little more than a year after integrating the system on the frigate Sachsen in June 2022, according to a Rheinmetall release on 22 September. The body responsible for development, construction and support is the High-Energy Laser Naval Demonstrator Working Group, or ARGE, consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall.
The several trials – totalling over 100 test firings – have proven the LWD’s combat effectiveness in increasingly complex scenarios, simulating realistic operating conditions against different target categories. This included detection and tracking of highly agile targets, effective management of sensors, C2 systems, effectors and rules of engagement and, of course, successful engagement of targets with a high-energy laser beam. At least one of the targets shot down, according to the Rheinmetall release, was a drone.
In addition to German military and government officials, representatives of the Dutch, Norwegian and British navies participated in various stages of the demonstration. The LWD is currently undergoing detailed examination and the results of this and the test regime will inform analysis and de-risking efforts for potential future programmes, such as the development of an operational laser weapon system. Both companies have commenced internal preparations for further development within their own areas of responsibility.
“[…] an operational laser weapon systems lends itself particularly to countering the threat from drones, drone swarms, speedboats and possibly missiles at very close range,” reads the Rheinmetall release, in part.
(Image: The LDW installed on the Sachsen frigate will inform further development of operational laser weapon systems. Credit: Rheinmetall)