The 50kW laser test platform (via Rheinmetall Defence)
The day we can cruise around the galaxy in a Star Destroyer hunting the Rebel Alliance has become one step closer to reality. Ok, so maybe not reality any time soon. But, we certainly are getting closer to the laser weaponry found on those ships only they’re more Earth bound as German weapons company Rheinmetall Defence has successfully tested their (slightly better) 50kW high-energy laser (HEL) weapons system. The HEL weapons platform is actually 2 separate lasers systems with one 30kW that’s mounted onto an Oerlikon Revolver Gun air-defense turret and an additional 20kW laser mounted on an earlier version of the Revolver turret, with both tied into an Oerlikon Skyguard fire-control unit that features a pulse-Doppler search radar, pulse-Doppler tracking radar and a co-axial television camera. The system is able to track both air and ground-based targets using the lasers separately or combined for the full fury of 50kW using the company’s Beam Superimposing Technology (BST). The system demonstration proved that the weapons system was able to melt through a 15mm thick steel girder from 1,000 meters (or 1 kilometer) out. It is also able to ‘shoot down’ unmanned aerial drones from a distance of 2 kilometers away. The tracking system could also lock-on to targets as far as 3 kilometers out moving at a speed of 50 meters (roughly 111mph) per second using the integrated Skyguard platform mechanically, while both laser’s onboard optical tracking system (Beam Forming Units) handled the fine-tracking of the UAV’s and after the pre-programmed distance was achieved, the lasers successfully shot down all incoming drones within just a few seconds. The ultimate end-goal of the system is to safe-guard friendly soldiers in multiple defense scenarios including air defense, counter-rocket, mortar/C-RAM (Counter Rocket Artillery Mortar) and Asymmetrical Warfare operations (SOF missions). After further testing, the system will undoubtedly be deployed on the battlefield sometime in the near future but not in a galaxy far, far away.