The armaments company Rheinmetall is working on a special weapon for the German armed forces – with laser beams. A decisive hurdle has now been overcome.
The armaments company Rheinmetall has taken an important step forward in building laser weapons for the military. The Federal Armed Forces procurement office has commissioned the production of a laser source demonstrator for a low double-digit million euro amount, the company announced on Thursday in Düsseldorf.
Rheinmetall’s laser development department is located in Unterlüß in Lower Saxony. The output power is up to 20 kilowatts. In a first project, the demonstrator is to be tested for one year on the naval frigate Saxony. The use on land could follow later.
Laser weapons are considered to have great military potential: States such as the USA, China, Great Britain, Turkey and India are also relying on their development.
Laser weapons are still a long way off
But all in all, these weapons still lead a shadowy existence. From the point of view of military experts, it will be a long time before such weapons can be used in regular service. The energy requirement is very high, but thanks to a powerful engine this is not as problematic on a ship as it is with mobile units on land.
Tracking is also demanding: the beam has to stay exactly at the same point on a surface so that it heats up and melts quickly.
Rheinmetall has been working on laser weapons for a long time; the cooperation partner is the German subsidiary of the armaments company MBDA. In 2015 there was already a test in the Baltic Sea, and the next step will follow in 2018. Now it is to come to the longest and most complex test phase of a laser weapon on a German naval ship.