Naval Weapons

MBDA Deutschland eyes HELWS opportunity with German Navy

21 February 2019

MBDA Deutschland is positioning its HELWS solution for a C-UAS demonstrator opportunity with the German Navy. Source: MBDA Deutschland

The German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology, and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) is expected to release a statement of work, and a subsequent request for proposals later this year for integration of a high-energy laser weapon system (HELWS) demonstrator on board a German Navy corvette.

The navy requirement provides for integrating a HELWS on a German Navy K130 Braunschweig-class corvette in the 2020-21 timeframe, and includes a series of engagement trials against an unspecified target set.

This opportunity, and a prospective follow-on contract, could effectively mark a commercial breakthrough for MBDA Deutschland's HELWS demonstrator programme, with the realistic potential of matching its laser weapon solution to a specific German Navy capability requirement. The company's high-energy laser development activities are partly funded internally and partly by the German government.

"This will be a 10 kW to 20 kW laser effector, so not yet optimised to engage missile threats; however, the target catalogue will ultimately be defined by the customer," Doris Laarmann, MBDA Deutschland's senior advisor for lasers, told Jane's .

Jane's understands that the HELWS demonstrator for this opportunity will be optimised for counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) missions, including addressing UAS, mini-UAS, and micro-UAS.

MBDA Deutschland has incrementally evolved its laser demonstrator solution since a series of initial proof of concept and vulnerability studies in 2008, when it switched from chemical to fibre laser technology. The company initially exploited geometric coupling technology - where a number of individual high-energy fibre laser sources are combined together using one common beam director telescope - coupled with the mirror optic beam forming technology.

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