The German weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall received an order from the German procurement authorities to develop an important future component of the laser weapon system.
The details were announced in a media release on November 26th, in which it was announced that the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service-Support of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) had signed a contract with Rheinmetall Waffen Munition GmbH at the end of the second quarter of 2020 completed a laser source demonstrator. The order is worth a number in the lower double-digit million euro range.
The laser source demonstrator is by nature intersectional and can be used in various projects to further investigate the use of laser technology in military applications. The first project for the laser demonstrator is a one-year test phase on board the frigate of the German Navy Saxony.
The laser demonstrator is based on the spectral coupling technology that Rheinmetall has been studying intensively for years. The most important performance data include a scalable output power of up to 20 kW with very good beam quality. The demonstrator essentially consists of twelve almost identical 2 kW fiber laser modules with almost diffraction-limited beam quality. A beam combiner – a sub-assembly that uses dielectric grating technology to convert multiple beams into a single beam – couples the twelve fiber laser beams into a single laser beam with excellent beam quality.
Spectral coupling technology offers a number of advantages over other coupling technologies, e.g. Geometric coupling: It is less complex, highly modular and has growth potential in the 100 kW power class. In addition, as a passive system, it is able to work with extremely little control effort.
In 2015, Rheinmetall successfully attacked land targets for the first time in Europe with a working prototype of a ship laser weapon system during tests in the Baltic Sea. In 2018, BAAINBw and Rheinmetall successfully tested a laboratory-based 20 kW laser source. The planned tests, which will be carried out in military environments under authentic operating conditions, are the next step on the way from laboratory to practical application within just three years. This is an important and important step towards introducing future laser weapon systems.