Laser weapon tracks, destroys drones, mortar rounds in mid-flight

the incoming unmanned aerial vehicles at a distance of three kilometers. Then the 30kW weapon station used the Skyguard data to carry out rough tracking mechanically. The optical tracking system in the Beam Forming Units (BFU’s) in the individual leaser weapon modules performed fine tracking of the UAVs. After reaching the programmed fire sector the laser weapon modules engaged the UAV’s immediately and destroyed the incoming UAVs within a few seconds.

The third highlight: detection, pursuit, and successful engagement of an extremely small ballistic target. A steel ball measuring 82 mm in diameter and travelling at approximately 50 m/sec, the target replicated a mortar round. The Skyguard fire control unit immediately detected the target, followed by mechanical tracking with the 30kW laser weapon station. At this point, the BFU of the laser weapon module took over, optically tracking the target, which was then engaged and destroyed in flight, leaving no doubt, the company says, as to the tactical viability of using laser weapons in future C-RAM scenarios. Moreover, the test makes clear that the time necessary for engaging mortar rounds at long ranges can be substantially reduced. Today, the required engagement time is already low enough to be in the region needed for C-RAM applications — even when adverse weather conditions make targets difficult to detect.

The company says that these tests should silence the skeptics, proving that Rheinmetall’s HEL weapon technology demonstrators can neutralize targets even under the most difficult weather conditions, including snow, dazzling sunlight, ice, and rain. The tests also offer proof that Rheinmetall leads the way in matching the energy and cooling requirements of a future HEL weapon system to the operational scenario requirements. Compared to last year, Rheinmetall has significantly increased the power density (kW/m3) of the technology demonstrator, enabling it produce twice the laser output within the same volume, the company notes.

Rheinmetall says it plans to set up a company-financed 60kW technology demonstrator in 2013 with greater laser output. Besides laser weapon stations, the plan calls for integrating 35mm Ahead Revolver Guns into the system. This will enable Rheinmetall engineers to identify and study possible synergies between laser weapons and automatic cannon.

The company also says that the concept for a mobile HEL weapon, which was successfully implemented with 1kW functional model mounted on a special TM170 vehicle, will also be pursued, this time with different mobile platforms. The objective here is to explore the parameters for integrating an HEL weapon on vehicles operating in the open.