BONN — Germany’s Rheinmetall plans to intensify its investment in high-energy laser (HEL) technology in 2013, including a 60-kilowatt technology demonstrator with greater laser output. The company also plans to pursue a concept for a mobile HEL weapon, according to a company news release.
On the technology demonstrator, Rheinmetall plans to integrate 35mm Ahead Revolver Guns among its laser weapon stations in a bid to identify possible synergies between laser weapons and automatic cannons.
The mobile HEL weapon, which exists as a 1 kW functional model, will be tested on different mobile platforms, enabling the engineers to explore integrating an HEL weapon on vehicles operating in the open.
News of Rheinmetall’s 2013 plans come more than two weeks after the company successfully tested its 50kW high-energy weapon technology demonstrator. According to Rheinmetall, the test was carried out in snowy conditions and sunlight at Rheinmetall’s Ochsenboden Proving Ground in Switzerland.
The testing included scenarios such as air defense, counter-rocket, artillery and mortar, and asymmetrical warfare operations. The demonstrator had to detect, track and engage.
The 50kW HEL weapon technology demonstrator consisted of two functional models. One was a 30kW weapon station integrated into an Oerlikon revolver gun air defense turret. It was connected to an Oerlikon Skyguard fire control unit. The second one was a 20kW weapon station integrated into a first generation revolver gun turret. The test was also designed to prove that separate HEL weapon stations, using Rheinmetall’s existing beam superimposing technology, could irradiate a single target in a superimposed, cumulative way.
The weapons were able to cut through a 15mm thick steel girder at a distance of 1,000 meters; shoot down several nose-diving target drones traveling at 50 meters per second at a range of two kilometers; and shoot down an 82mm-diameter steel ball traveling at the same speed.