MBDA Germany trials new laser weapon system demonstrator

28 November 2016
MBDA Germany's new laser weapon demonstrator. The green 'beam' is the illumination laser, not the high-energy laser effector. Source: MBDA

Key Points

  • Trials focus on beam guidance and tracking system
  • High energy laser expected to be demonstrated in 2017

MBDA Germany has edged closer to fielding a new deployable laser weapon system (LWS) following a series of day/night all-weather trials.

Conducted at the Bundeswehr's military training ground at Putlos on the Baltic Sea from 4-14 October, the trials were specifically designed to test the beam guidance and tracking system of the new LWS demonstrator in a sequence of simulated engagements of airborne targets. Firing of the high-energy laser was not scheduled for these tests, nor was an acquisition sensor deployed.

Quadcopters fitted with GPS transmitters served as airborne targets for the trials, performing a variety of dynamic manoeuvres at different ranges to prove the functionality of the overall system and the performance capability of the LWS's improved tracking system. The targets were preset, scanned with the laser target illuminator, and an aim point was held on the target for an extended period to simulate destruction of the threat.

"The system successfully tracked all the targets involved in the trials - sometimes in adverse weather conditions, which included heavy rain and storms. During night trials, the demonstrator was also able to acquire and track targets, even in conditions of poor visibility. In addition, it was also successfully deployed to defend against a simulated swarming attack, which required rapid switching between targets approaching from different directions," Dr Markus Martinstetter, Future Systems Sales Engineer at MBDA Deutschland told IHS Jane's.

An external radar sensor was not used to track the targets because the "focus of the trials was on the effector," Martinstetter said. "Nevertheless the intention was to have an appropriate pre-acquisition capability to test the demonstrator's automated target lock-on. Accordingly, the GPS-equipped targets sent a rough GPS position to the LSW demonstrator, which, using this information, locked on the target with its coarse tracking sensor.

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