The German defense company Rheinmetall recently conducted a successful counter-drone test with a prototype laser weapon that can shoot unwanted drones from the sky. The system was developed on behalf of the German Bundeswehr. The laser beam has a power of no less than 10 kW. During the test, drones were neutralized up to a distance of 1 km.
High energy laser
High-power lasers are often seen as a suitable candidate when it comes to physically neutralizing unwanted drones. The advantage is that a laser can be aimed very precisely and that the beam hits the target without delay. Thanks to the high energy intensity, any cameras on board the drone will be directly blinded and essential parts such as propellers will melt. The intense heat also causes batteries and/or electronics to fail.
The prototype laser gun from Rheinmetall is housed in a container, which consists of three compartments: laser, operator, and aiming system. The laser source comprises five 2 kW modules, whose beams are combined into one laser beam with a power of 10 kW using glass fibers. The system has a modular structure so that it is easy to experiment with different parts and configurations.
The system is equipped with a radar to detect drones. Once a drone is sighted, the laser cannon is aimed by means of an exposure laser. This illuminates the possible target, after which the high-power laser emits its beam in the direction of the observed reflection.
Counter-drone test passed successfully
During the counter-drone exercise at the Rheinmetall test site in Unterlüß, a variety of drone types were optically tracked and neutralized with a range of up to one kilometer. According to Rheinmetall, the results achieved were more than satisfactory. The aim is to have a mobile demonstrator with a laser power of more than 10 kW ready by the end of 2022, which can be integrated into a Boxer combat vehicle.
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(cover photo: Rheinmetall)
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