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The Bundeswehr has contracted MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH, acting in consortium, to develop, manufacture and test a laser weapon demonstrator for naval applications, the companies announced on 28 January.

Work on the high-energy laser effector (HEL) will be shared out on a roughly equal basis. MBDA Deutschland is responsible for tracking, operator console and linking the demonstrator to the C2 system; Rheinmetall is in charge of the laser weapon station, the beam-guiding system, cooling, and integration of the weapon system, which is to be fabricated, tested and integrated by the end of 2021. Trials onboard the German Navy frigate F-124 SACHSEB are scheduled 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 is] 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,” explained Doris Laarmann, Head of Laser Business Development for MBDA Deutschland.

Alexander Graf, head of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition’s laser weapons programme, and Dr Markus Jung, who leads the company’s laser weapon development effort, both agree, adding “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.”

By next year, firing trials on the Germany Navy’s frigate SACHSEN will be underway. (Image via Rheinmetall)

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