German company demonstrates laser weapon capable of shooting down drones from over a mile away

By End the Lie

(Image credit: Rheinmetall logo and laser by Rheinmetall Defense/End the Lie compilation)

(Image credit: Rheinmetall logo and HEL weapon by Rheinmetall Defense/End the Lie compilation)

With the rise of drones it seems counter-drone technology is a logical next step for countries who would like to continue to pour endless amounts of money into so-called defense technologies. A German company has demonstrated a product which very well might interest many countries: a laser weapon capable of shooting down drones from over a mile away.

The rapid development of drone technology, including the realistic possibility of perpetual flight along with increasingly common use of drones here in the United States (also confirmed by numerous documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act), has pushed the drone issue into the spotlight.

While privacy concerns and the legal implications the use of drones for assassinations of Americans are commonly dealt with, the future of international drone war isn’t quite as frequently brought up.

Thanks to Germany’s Rheinmetall Defense and their 50 kW high energy laser (HEL) weapon, it seems that countries may have at least some way to defend themselves against drone attacks.

The HEL was recently successfully tested in Switzerland and proved capable of cutting a large 15mm-thick steel girder from 1,000 meters away and “the HEL shot down several nose-diving target drones at a range of two kilometers,” according to Homeland Security News Wire.

Keep in mind, 50kW is just the beginning since, according to Rheinmetall, “from the technical stand-point, nothing stands in the way of a future HEL weapon system with a 100kW output.”

The system utilized both optical and radar systems to detect and track the two drones each flying at 50 meters per second, or 111.8 miles per hour.

The system also demonstrated the ability to “shoot out of the air a steel ball designed to mimic a mortar round,” according to the BBC.

The ball designed to mimic a mortar round measured only 82 mm in diameter and was traveling at around 50 meters per second, according to Rheinmetall.

Rheinmetall, based out of Düsseldorf, says that the system can “neutralize targets even under the most difficult weather conditions, including snow, dazzling sunlight, ice and rain.”

However, the company isn’t stopping there. They plan to build a 60kW technology demonstrator this year with an even more powerful laser.

In addition they plan to integrate “35mm Ahead Revolver Guns into the system,” according to the company.

“This will enable Rheinmetall engineers to identify and study possible synergies between laser weapons and automatic cannon,” they said in a press release.

Perhaps most staggering of all, Rheinmetall said they are pursuing a mobile HEL weapon, the concept for which “was successfully implemented with 1kW functional model mounted on a special TM170 vehicle.”

The TM170 is Rheinmetall Landsysteme’s armored personnel carrier used by Austria, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Macedonia, South Korea and Spain.

The sheer amount of progress Rheinmetall has made over the past year with this technology is astounding.

“A five-fold increase in laser power [over last year’s model] was thus available for the individual scenarios, which included Air Defense, Counter Rocket, Artillery, Mortar/C-RAM, and Asymmetric Warfare operations,” according to Homeland Security News Wire.

Companies around the world are developing laser-based weapons including Raytheon, which is developing an anti-aircraft laser (which you can see being tested here), and the U.S. military (of course), which is developing the “Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) cannon” capable of using a laser to create and target a lightning bolt.

All of this technology makes one wonder how exactly it will be used and what the future of an increasingly drone-based battlefield will really look like. Throw fully automated weapons systems, or “killer robots,” into the mix and the picture gets even harder to imagine.

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3 Responses to German company demonstrates laser weapon capable of shooting down drones from over a mile away

  1. Anonymous January 10, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    can I get one?

    Reply
  2. waimeajim January 10, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    We’re just around the corner from force fields that can vaporize bullets.
    Then what will the Government and thieves do?

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Rheinmetall wins €280 million in new air defence orders from Asia and the Middle East

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