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Update: Laser weapon testing under way from F124 frigate

The laser weapon demonstrator, co-developed by MBDA Deutschland and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition, has been installed on Sachsen inside a 20 ft container. (Rheinmetall)

A German industry partnership (ARGE) comprising MBDA Deutschland and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition has revealed the first operational tests of a laser weapon from a German warship.

Announcing the milestone on 27 October, Rheinmetall said that initial testing of the High-Energy Laser Naval Demonstrator against unmanned air vehicle (UAV) targets was performed in late August from the F124 air-defence frigate Sachsen in the Baltic.

Building on earlier prototype trials, Rheinmetall was, in mid-2020, contracted by Germany's Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) to develop, build, and integrate a laser weapon demonstrator together with MBDA Deutschland.

Under the ARGE industrial partnership arrangement, Rheinmetall is taking overall responsibility for the laser weapon station, the beam director, cooling, and packaging of the laser weapon system. For its part, MBDA Deutschland has taken the lead for tracking, the operator's console, and integrating the laser weapon demonstrator to the combat management system.

The laser weapon demonstrator, scalable to up to 20 kW, is based on spectral coupling technology, which Rheinmetall has been exploring for several years. In this case, a beam combiner using dielectric grid technology can couple 12 near-identical 2 kW fibre laser modules into a single high-quality beam.

Joint integration and test activity for the laser demonstrator started in November 2021 when the ARGE integration team concluded a successful factory-acceptance test at Rheinmetall's Unterlüß proving ground. The demonstrator, packaged in a 20 ft ISO-standard shipping container, was subsequently installed onboard Sachsen in Kiel.

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