For those familiar with German weaponry through the years, Rheinmetall is practically a household name. From the MG 42 of WWII fame to the KZO Tactical UAV, they’ve been one of the leading arms manufacturers for armies around the world. And now, they’ve apparently successfully test fired their latest creation — a frickin’ laser gun . . .
From the press release:
Rheinmetall has successfully tested its new 50kW high-energy weapon technology demonstrator. Conducted at the end of November, the test encompassed the entire operational sequence from target detection and tracking to target engagement. Building on a 123-year heritage, the Düsseldorf, Germany-based Group has once again made good its claim to be the global leader in high-energy laser (HEL) technology.
It looks like they’re planning on using this kind of thing in a defensive role, intercepting incoming aircraft and projectiles. Which is a lot easier when your projectile is traveling at relativistic speeds instead of merely a couple thousand feet per second.
Witnessed by leading experts, the demonstration delivered compelling evidence for the 50kW HEL weapon technology demonstrator’s high stability: a massive, 15mm-thick steel girder was cut through at a distance of 1,000 metres. The successful shooting down of several nose-diving target drones at a range of two kilometres formed the second major highlight. Though they were flying at over 50 metres a second, the Skyguard radar had no trouble detecting the incoming unmanned aerial vehicles at a distance of three kilometres. 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 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.
Yeah, that right there is freaking awesome.
They’ve shown this tech off before, but in the last year they’ve been able to double the power output of the laser system without making the box much larger. The system being shown off is already compact enough to be mounted on ships or flatbed trucks, and would work great in static positions.
I just can’t wait for these puppies to get down to the man-portable size. Just imagine never having to calculate wind, bullet drop or lead for a target ever again. Point, click, dinner. Hell, it might even cook the thing on the hoof . . .