A laser weapons demonstrator on board the Sachsen frigate of the German Navy

The German military procurement authority has commissioned Rheinmetall to develop a key component for the future of laser weapon systems. At the end of the second quarter of 2020, the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Service Support for the German Armed Forces (BAAINBw) commissioned Rheinmetall Waffen Munition GmbH to manufacture a laser source demonstrator.

Using an intersection design, this demonstrator can be used in various projects to further investigate the use of laser technology in military applications. In fact, the first project for the laser demonstrator will be a one-year test phase on board the Sachsen frigate of the German Navy.

The laser demonstrator is based on the spectral coupling technology that Rheinmetall has been researching intensively for years. The most important performance data include a scalable output of up to 20 kW with very good beam quality. The demonstrator essentially consists of twelve almost identical 2 kW fiber laser modules with an almost diffraction-limited beam quality. A beam combiner is a subset that converts multiple beams into a single package using dielectric grating technology. As a result, the twelve fiber laser beams were coupled into a single laser beam with excellent quality. Spectral coupling technology offers a number of advantages over other couplings such as geometric coupling. This is because it is less complex and highly modular, and has significant growth potential in the 100 kW power class. In addition, it can be operated as a passive system with extremely little control effort.

Indeed, as early as 2015 and after an intensive series of laboratory tests; Rheinmetall was faced with a series of tests in the Baltic Sea that successfully met targets on land. For this purpose, a high-energy laser effector in the 10-kilowatt range was used, which was mounted next to an MLG 27 automatic marine pistol. In 2018, BAAINBw and the company successfully tested a 20 kW laser source. The development of the technology then accelerated from laboratory testing to practical application in just three years. The planned tests will be carried out in military environments and under real operating conditions. This is seen as essential to the development of future laser weapon systems. (Antonio Ros Pau)

Photo: This laser demonstrator project will have a one-year test phase on board the frigate Sachsen of the German Navy. Photographer (Rheinmetall)

Rheinmetall has received the order to develop a key component for the future of laser weapon systems. Photographer (Rheinmetall)

Germany already tested a high-energy laser effector in 2015, which is installed next to an automatic ship assembly. Photo (Rheinmetall)

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