Germany tests laser weapon

German defense contractor Rheinmetall says its new high-energy laser weapon was successfully tested at sea against multiple drones

Germany tests laser weapon
29 Oct, 2022 01:23 HomeWorld News

Germany tests laser weapon

The high-energy device fired from an air-defense frigate, successfully engaging multiple drones

The future high-energy laser (HEL) weapon was fired for the first time from a German Navy air-defense frigate in the Baltic Sea at the end of August, Rheinmetall said on Thursday in a statement. The Sachsen-class frigate reportedly successfully engaged several drones, proving its ability to shoot down multiple targets at short and very short ranges.

The live-fire test verified the capabilities of the HEL’s electro-optical sensors and radars, said Rheinmetall, which is co-developing the weapon with German missile maker MBDA. The Navy was able to assess the interplay between all components and procedures, from target acquisition to engagement.

Testing will continue through mid-2023, challenging the HEL’s capabilities in different scenarios. The results will help determine what needs to be done to make the weapon fully operational, Rheinmetall said. “The current trials have now set the basic stage for introducing laser weapon systems and capabilities into the Bundeswehr – capabilities whose relevance is by no means restricted to the Navy. The defense industry is pressing ahead with laser systems that will help to protect troops deployed in harm’s way in multiple applications.”

Western militaries are racing to advance their defenses against drone attacks, which the Pentagon sees dominating battlefields in future conflicts. “Drones will be as important in the first battle of the next war as artillery is today,” US Army Brigadier General Curt Taylor said last month, after conducting a drone “swarm” exercise involving 40 quadcopters.

Lasers are seen as a potentially significant part of the solution for drone attacks and other air-defense challenges. US and Israeli defense contractors agreed in July to work jointly in building new high-energy laser weapon systems.