Germany has awarded a consortium (ARGE) consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH a contract to fabricate, integrate and support testing of a laser weapon demonstrator in the maritime environment.
The contract was awarded by German defense procurement agency BAAINBw (“Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support”). A statement released by the companies said that the order value is in the low double-digit million euro range.
The work, under the order, will be shared out between the two companies on a roughly equal basis. MBDA Deutschland is responsible for tracking, the operator’s console and linking the laser weapon demonstrator to the command-and-control system. Rheinmetall is in charge of the laser weapon station, the beam guiding system, cooling, and integration of the laser weapon system into the project container of the laser source demonstrator.
The laser weapon demonstrator is to be fabricated, tested and integrated on Germany Navy F124 Sachsen-class frigate FGS Sachsen (F219) by the end of the 2021. Trials onboard the frigate are to take place in 2022.
“The contract is an important step on the path to an operational high-energy laser system. Our two companies will apply their respective strengths to make this project a success on behalf of the German Navy. Once it’s installed, the demonstrator will also be used to test important aspects such as the interaction and function of the sensor suite, combat management system and effector as well as rules of engagement,” said Doris Laarmann, head of laser business development at MBDA Deutschland.
“The contract marks a systematic extension of the functional prototype laser weapon successfully tested in recent years, with the experience gained now dovetailing into one of the most ambitious projects in the field of laser weapon development in Europe,” said a statement released by Alexander Graf, head of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition’s laser weapons programme, and Dr Markus Jung, who leads the company’s laser weapon development effort.
A breakthrough development in the history of defence technology, lasers engage targets at the speed of light, operating with great precision and producing very little collateral damage. A demonstrator system featuring these capabilities will soon be put to the test under highly realistic operating conditions onboard a German frigate.
In 2015, during trials conducted in the Baltic, Rheinmetall successfully engaged targets on land with a functional prototype of a shipboard laser weapon system for the first time in Europe. Then, in 2018, BAAINBw and Rheinmetall successfully tested a laboratory-based 20kW laser source.