MBDA Deutschland — the German arm of European missile group MBDA — has tested a new high-energy laser effector at a military training facility on Germany’s North Sea coast, marking the next step in the progression from technology to an operational product. In this series of trials, conducted from 4th to 14th October, the system was tested under real environmental conditions for the first time.
The primary purpose of this series of trials was to test the beam guidance and tracking system, with a simulated engagement of airborne targets. In this exercise, the targets were preset, scanned with the laser target illuminator, and an aim point was held on the target for an extended period. The quadcopter serving as the airborne target performed a variety of often highly dynamic manoeuvres at a variety of ranges.
The tests verified the functionality of the overall system and the performance capability of the improved tracking system. In spite of often adverse weather conditions, including heavy rain and storms, the system was able to successfully track all the targets involved in the trials. During night trials, the demonstrator proved capable of acquiring and tracking targets even under conditions of poor visibility. In other experiments, the laser team simulated a defence against a swarming attack, which required rapid switching between targets approaching from different directions.
The new system demonstrator builds on the experience gained in previous laser activities and proven technologies. It is integrated in a standard container and is equipped with a highly dynamic 360-degree beam guidance system. The MBDA Deutschland solution features high precision, scalability of effect and low logistics costs. The sophisticated mirror optics are capable of harnessing higher laser power levels than those available today, giving the system significant future potential.
Since 2008, MBDA Deutschland has developed and successfully tested a high-energy laser weapon demonstrator against a broad range of threats, including rapidly manoeuvring, highly dynamic targets such as mini-UAVs. Functionality of the full operation of a laser weapon system has been proven in a series of demonstrations and tests, including target acquisition, engagement and destruction at distances of up to 2km.
MBDA is examining laser-armament options for naval and air applications as well as ground-based mobile laser effector concepts with capacities in excess of 100kW, 360-degree coverage and open system architecture for close and intermediate-range protection against micro UAVs and RAM (rocket and mortar) targets.