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Bundeswehr completes laser weapon demonstrator trials at sea

The laser weapon demonstrator installed on the German Navy's F 124 air-defence frigate FGS Sachsen will inform further development of operational laser weapon systems. (MBDA)

The German armed forces (Bundeswehr) has successfully completed an extended laser weapon trial at sea onboard the Germany Navy's F 124 air-defence frigate FGS Sachsen.

Announcing the milestone on 22 September Rheinmetall Waffe Munition (RWM) said the laser weapon demonstrator (LWD) had performed more than 100 test-firings onboard Sachsen during 2022/2023 in a range of increasingly complex scenarios, which proved that a laser is capable of successfully engaging targets in a maritime environment.

The LWD, which is scalable to up to 20 kW, was developed, built, and integrated by RWM in partnership with MBDA Deutschland under a contract awarded by Germany's Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) in mid-2020.

Under the ARGE industrial partnership arrangement, Rheinmetall was responsible for the laser weapon station, beam director, cooling, and packaging of the laser weapon system, while MBDA Deutschland was responsible for tracking, the operator console, and integrating the LWD to the ship's combat management system.

Sachsen was integrated with the LWD in June 2022 and initial testing took place in July to verify the capabilities of various sensors, including the electro-optical sensor suite from the ARGE and the radar. The operational trials programme was conducted during six campaigns lasting nearly a year, with the first live engagements from Sachsen taking place in the Baltic Sea on 30 August.

The trials programme was planned and organised by BAAINBw with support from the ARGE consortium.

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