The (wet) dream of probably every general in the military is to be able to have a working laser weapon that they can use for both defense and active duty has gotten one step further to reality with a successful testing of the Rheinmetall 50kW laser system.
Designed as a weapon to be used for air defense, asymmetric warfare and also in Counter Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) operations, the Rheinmetall high energy laser system is a dream come true for the military.
This past November the company tested its newest version, a 50kW laser, in a series of exercises at the German-based company's Ochsenboden Proving Ground in Switzerland to show what improvements they have made since last year's 10kW version of the system.
The system isn't a single laser but rather two laser modules that are mounted on the Oerlikon Revolver Gun air defense turrets and with additional modules for supplying the power needed. These two lasers are combined using Rheinmetall's Beam Superimposing Technology to focus a 30kW and a 20kW laser on the same spot, which is what give the system its combined 50kW destructive power.
Testing of the laser system was against three different targets with the first being a 15 mm-thick steel girder which was cut through at a distance of 3,281 ft. Second was against a group of nose diving drones that were flying at 164 ft/s, detected by the system at 1.24 miles within a few seconds. The last test was a simulated mortar attack using a steel ball 3.22 inches in diameter moving at 50 meters per second and was immediately tracked, locked on to, and destroyed.
Rheinmetall says that the tests have shown that the laser system can work in all types of weather and also meeting the energy and cooling requirements while delivering twice the power compared to previous equipment of the same size.
There are plans for a 60kW next year and the company sees no reason why it wouldn't be possible to develop a 100kW version as well.