German Navy fleet may soon be armed with combat-ready lasers

 (Rheinmetall AG / SWNS)
(Rheinmetall AG / SWNS)

The German Navy fleet may soon be armed with combat-ready lasers.

A laser weapon demonstrator (LWD) has successfully been trialled for a year onboard the Frigate Sachsen with assistance from he British Navy.

The LWD has performed more than a hundred test firings under realistic operating conditions against different target types.

The weapon fires a high-energy laser beam that can destroy drones, drone swarms, speedboats and possibly missiles at close to very close range.

The laser weapon demonstrator (LWD) on the German Navy frigate Sachsen (Rheinmetall AG / SWNS)
The laser weapon demonstrator (LWD) on the German Navy frigate Sachsen (Rheinmetall AG / SWNS)

Arms manufacturer Rheinmetall AG says it could undergo a performance upgrade for destroying supersonic missiles, rockets, and mortar and artillery rounds.

The company explained this month that the trial “proved that a laser is capable of successfully engaging targets in a maritime environment.”

During the trials, with an overall six campaigns lasting nearly a year, the combat effectiveness was proven in increasingly complex scenarios against targets.

This included all aspects from detection and tracking - including highly agile targets; the interplay of sensors, command and weapon engagement systems and effectors; possible rules of engagement; and the successful engagement of targets with a laser beam.

Rheinmetall AG say the system would complement gun-based systems and guided missiles.

At the end of the trials, the LWD’s capabilities were successfully demonstrated at two VIP days, which included shooting down a drone, in front of high-ranking representatives of the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), the Germany Navy and Army, as well as the Bundeswehr Office for Defence Planning (PlgABw).

Representatives of the British, Netherlands and Norwegian Navy participated during the demonstration, say Rheinmetall AG.

Responsibility for development and construction of the laser system, as well as the support during the trials that have been planned and organised by BAAINBw, is the High-Energy Laser Naval Demonstrator Working Group, or ARGE, consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall.

The demonstrator is currently undergoing detailed examination, after which it will be transferred to Bundeswehr Tech­nical Centre 91 in Meppen: the German army technology centre responsible for weapons and ammunition.

“The test results and subsequent analysis will be used for mini­mising risks in a possible next phase, i.e., the development of an operational laser weapon system,” Rheinmetall AG add.