Rheinmetall High-energy Laser (HEL)
Rheinmetall High-energy Laser (HEL)

Rheinmetall and MBDA Win Contract for High-Energy Laser Weapon Demonstrator

Germany’s Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has awarded a consortium, or ARGE, consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH a contract to fabricate, integrate and support testing of a laser weapon demonstrator in the maritime environment. The order value is in the low double-digit million euro range. MBDA Deutschland is responsible for tracking, the operator’s console and linking the laser weapon demonstrator to the command-and-control system. Rheinmetall is in charge of the laser weapon station, the beam guiding system, cooling, and integration of the laser weapon system into the project container of the laser source demonstrator.

As Doris Laarmann, head of laser business development at MBDA Deutschland, said “The contract is an important step on the path to an operational high-energy laser system. Our two companies will apply their respective strengths to make this project a success on behalf of the German Navy. Once it’s installed, the demonstrator will also be used to test important aspects such as the interaction and function of the sensor suite, combat management system and effector as well as rules of engagement.”

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Alexander Graf, head of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition’s laser weapons programme, and Dr Markus Jung, who leads the company’s laser weapon development effort, said “The contract marks a systematic extension of the functional prototype laser weapon successfully tested in recent years, with the experience gained now dovetailing into one of the most ambitious projects in the field of laser weapon development in Europe.”

German Navy Sachsen (F219) air-defense frigates
German Navy Sachsen (F219) air-defense frigates

The laser weapon demonstrator is to be fabricated, tested and integrated by the end of the 2021. Trials onboard the German Navy frigate F-124 Sachsen are to take place in 2022. A breakthrough development in the history of defence technology, lasers engage targets at the speed of light, operating with great precision and producing very little collateral damage. A demonstrator system featuring these capabilities will soon be put to the test under highly realistic operating conditions onboard a German frigate. Rheinmetall has been active in the field of laser weapon systems for many years. In the world of laser weapon stations and laser sources, during the past five years Rheinmetall has laid the foundation for a future 100kW laser weapon system, demonstrating its fundamental feasibility.

A publicly traded company headquartered in Düsseldorf, Rheinmetall AG is a globally active technology group dedicated to the twin future imperatives of security and mobility. In 2019 Rheinmetall’s 30,000 employees generated sales of around €6.25 billion. The company is present around the globe, with offices and production facilities at over 120 locations. As one of Europe’s top suppliers of defence and security technology, Rheinmetall is synonymous with longstanding experience and pioneering excellence in armoured vehicles, weapons and ammunition as well as air defence and electronics. Its comprehensive range of products and services encompasses a vast range of military capabilities, including reconnaissance, command and control, tactical mobility, kinetics and force protection.

A computer graphic illustration of a laser weapon demonstrator onboard a German Navy frigate. Credit: MBDA.
A computer graphic illustration of a laser weapon demonstrator onboard a German Navy frigate. Credit: MBDA.
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