Rheinmetall announced yesterday that it tested a 50 kW high-energy laser (HEL) technology demonstrator at the end of November. The test at the company’s Ochsenboden proving ground in Switzerland involved detecting, tracking and engaging a target in scenarios including air defense and countering rockets, artillery, mortars and asymmetric threats.
The technology demonstrator consisted of two functional models: a 30 kW weapon station integrated into an Oerlikon revolver gun air defense turret for static and dynamic tests, coupled with an Oerlikon Skyguard fire control unit; and a 20 kW weapon station integrated into a first-generation revolver gun turret. It cut through a 15 mm-thick steel girder at a range of 1,000 meters, shot down several diving target UAVs at a range of two kilometers flying over 50 meters a second, and engaged an 82 mm-diameter steel ball representing a mortar round and traveling around 50 meters a second, according to Rheinmetall.
As the next step, Rheinmetall plans to build a 60 kW technology demonstrator in 2013 and integrate 35mm Ahead revolver guns into the system to identify and study possible synergies between laser weapons and automatic cannon. The company will also continue work on mobile HEL weapons on different platforms.
In September 2011, Rheinmetall shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle with a 10-kW laser weapon demonstrator and sank a moving rubber raft with a 1-kW laser weapon module mounted on a TM 170-type vehicle.