Rheinmetall Defence (Stand S2-266) is emphasising its expanding range of High Energy Laser (HEL) effectors for land- and sea-based defence, being promoted for the emerging threat from unmanned air systems, which are often very small, slow and fly at a low altitude, writes Christopher F Foss.
Being shown at DSEI are an Oerlikon Skyshield remote-controlled turret fitted with an integrated HEL effector, and a recently developed powerful 20kW standalone HEL effector for naval applications (above), which has already undergone sea trials. This is based on the naval MLG 27 lafette, which is normally armed with a 27mm Mauser cannon.
By using beam-superimposing technology, Rheinmetall has concentrated the power of single laser beams into one tiny spot, which, the company says, not only allows superimposition of multiple laser beams on a single gun platform, but also superimposition of multiple gun platforms.
The Oerlikon Skyshield has the standard 35mm cannon replaced by a 10kW fibre laser and beam-forming HEL unit, which has already taken part in the Live Laser Demonstration carried out in Switzerland. The HEL effector is one part of the Rheinmetall ground-based air defence system; the other is the Oerlikon Skyshield or Oerlikon Skyguard computerised fire control unit, which carries out target acquisition and weapon control and then hands over to the HEL to carry out the target engagement.
Rheinmetall Defence has already demonstrated a 5kW HEL on an M113 series tracked armoured personnel carrier, a 20kW system on a larger Boxer (8x8) Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV) and a 50kW system in a container carried on an 8x8 cross-country truck.