German tin can makes drone “kill” via laser, err, Laserwaffendemonstrator

The German frigate Sachsen (F219) has carried a laser demonstrator for the past year and recently proved it worked.

Sachen is a 5,700-ton F124-class frigate, commissioned in 2004. her principal battery is a 76mm OTO backed up by twin Mauser 27mm autocannons while her missiles consist of a 32-cell VLS system, quad-packed Harpoons, and two 21-cell RAM systems. Oh yeah, and a frick’n laser

The laser weapon demonstrator is integrated in a 20-foot container that was installed on the deck of the German frigate Sachsen.

Die Tests zeigen: dynamische Ziele, wie bspw. Drohnen, können erfolgreich bekämpft werden.

As described by Rheinmetall:

On August 30th, 2022, the German frigate Sachsen successfully engaged drones at short and very short range in the Baltic Sea near Putlos Major Training Area. The laser weapon demonstrator was developed by the High-Energy Laser Naval Demonstrator working committee (“ARGE”), consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH.

Future high-energy laser (HEL) weapon systems for the Navy will be especially useful in defending against drones and drone swarms as well as engaging attacking speed boats at close and very close range. But the system can also be designed for greater output, enabling it to destroy guided missiles and mortar rounds.

Testing of the high-energy laser weapon will continue until mid-2023. In subsequent test campaigns, new scenarios will challenge the demonstrator’s capabilities. Not least, the results will determine what still needs to be done on the path to a fully functional, operational laser weapon.

As noted by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr = BAAINBw):

After almost ten years of intensive research into laser effectors, the results of these efforts have been bundled into a demonstrator that integrates the entire functionality in a 20-foot container – from reconnaissance and data processing to combat with a high-energy laser. The laser weapon demonstrator was already scaffolded on the frigate “Sachsen” at the end of June 2022 in order to test it under realistic operational conditions in the maritime environment. For this purpose, the BAAINBw developed an extensive test program with demanding test scenarios on land, on water and in the air, in which the laser weapon demonstrator is to prove its suitability during a test lasting almost a year.

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