Erfolgreiche Zielbekämpfung mit Hochenergie-Laserwaffen

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Rhein­metall: suc­cess­ful tar­get engage­ment with high-ener­gy laser weapons

Full-scale demon­stra­tor con­firms Rheinmetall’s tech­no­log­i­cal lead

Hav­ing recent­ly used a high-ener­gy laser weapon to down an unmanned air­craft at a prov­ing ground in Switzer­land, Rhein­metall has demon­strat­ed the oper­a­tional poten­tial of com­bin­ing a pow­er­ful laser weapon with an advanced air defence sys­tem. This event pro­vides com­pelling proof of the Group’s 360° com­pe­tence in rel­e­vant tech­nolo­gies rang­ing from mil­i­tary lasers and tar­get recog­ni­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to tar­get track­ing and fire con­trol units – and its unri­valled abil­i­ty to weld them into a sin­gle, for­ward-look­ing, ful­ly func­tion­al full scale demonstrator. 

Rheinmetall Defence
Oer­likon Sky­guard 3 fire con­trol unit and a Skyshield gun tur­ret
Source: Rhein­metall Landsys­teme GmbH
Click to enlarge
Rheinmetall Defence
Oer­likon Sky­guard-Sys­tem 
Source: Rhein­metall Landsys­teme GmbH
Click to enlarge
At a live fire laser demo at the Group’s Ochsen­bo­den prov­ing ground, inter­na­tion­al guests were able to view two laser weapon demon­stra­tors in action, each fea­tur­ing dif­fer­ent per­for­mance parameters. 

For exam­ple, a 10-kW laser was inte­grat­ed into an air defence sys­tem con­sist­ing of an Oer­likon Sky­guard 3 fire con­trol unit and a Skyshield gun tur­ret. Mod­u­lar and scal­able, the laser weapon itself con­sist­ed of two 5‑kW laser weapon modules. 

In addi­tion, a 1‑kW laser weapon mod­ule was dis­played, spe­cial­ly mount­ed on a TM 170-type vehi­cle for the purpose. 

Both laser weapon demon­stra­tors were deployed in dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios: as a means of pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion from asym­met­ric, ter­ror­ist-type threats; in a C‑RAM con­text to counter the threat from incom­ing rock­ets, artillery and mor­tar rounds; and in an air defence sce­nario with an unmanned air vehi­cle serv­ing as the target. 

Among oth­er things, the 1‑kW laser weapon demon­stra­tor suc­cess­ful­ly sank a mov­ing rub­ber raft (a sub­sti­tute for an ene­my speed­boat), and also proved high­ly effec­tive in destroy­ing IEDs as well as neu­tral­iz­ing unex­plod­ed ord­nance from a safe dis­tance.
In the C‑RAM sce­nario, the 10-kW laser weapon demon­stra­tor revealed that dou­bling the laser out­put from 5 kW (the design sta­tus in 2010) to 10 kW results in sub­stan­tial­ly improved per­for­mance against mor­tar rounds, with the required engage­ment time reduced by approx­i­mate­ly 50%.

A tech­no­log­i­cal high­light in the air defence sce­nario was the engage­ment of a Tier 1‑class unmanned air vehi­cle (UAV). The air defence sys­tem, equipped with a 10-kW laser weapon demon­stra­tor, was able to detect, track and engage the tar­get (the so-called “kill chain”), suc­cess­ful­ly destroy­ing the UAV in flight. 

The Oer­likon Sky­guard sys­tem detect­ed the incom­ing threat, ini­ti­at­ed the elec­tron­ic tar­get track­ing process, slewed the Skyshield tur­ret in the direc­tion of the UAV and trans­mit­ted the tar­get data to the laser weapon demon­stra­tor. Inde­pen­dent­ly tak­ing up the tar­get track­ing process, this effec­tor switched to fine-track­ing mode before aim­ing the laser beam at the drone and destroy­ing it in a mat­ter of seconds. 

Rhein­metall also occu­pies a lead­ing posi­tion in anoth­er area of laser R&D: in coop­er­a­tion with its coop­er­a­tion part­ner, the Fraun­hofer Insti­tute for Applied Optics and Pre­ci­son Engi­neer­ing (IOF) in Jena, Rhein­metall holds the pub­lic world record for spec­tral cou­pling of laser puls­es with an 8‑kW laser out­put and excel­lent beam quality.

The lat­est live fire demon­stra­tion at the Ochsen­bo­den prov­ing ground, a joint effort by Rheinmetall’s Weapon and Muni­tions and Air Defence divi­sions, clear­ly shows that the Group already pos­sess­es all the skills nec­es­sary to devel­op com­plex laser weapon sys­tems. Through its work on behalf of the Ger­man gov­ern­ment and well-tar­get­ed appli­ca­tion of its own resources, Rhein­metall has acquired tremen­dous exper­tise in this field in recent years. 

Rhein­metall expects a high-ener­gy laser weapon sys­tem with an out­put of 100 kW
to be avail­able with­in the next three to five years. Even today, the mod­u­lar, scal­able design is able to meet a vast vari­ety of requirements.

Along with pre­ci­sion, ease of inte­gra­tion into var­i­ous plat­forms and scal­able esca­la­tion, laser weapons in future will offer the prin­ci­pal advan­tage of reduced cost, since mate­r­i­al con­sump­tion and wear and tear with laser effec­tors is nat­u­ral­ly low. 


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