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Thread: Rheinmetall demos lasers that shoot down drones!

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    Rheinmetall demos lasers that shoot down drones!

    BBC News - Rheinmetall demos laser that can shoot down drones

    A laser weapons system that can shoot down two drones at a distance of over a mile has been demonstrated by Rheinmetall Defence.

    The German defence firm used the high-energy laser equipment to shoot fast-moving drones at a distance.

    The system, which uses two laser weapons, was also used to cut through a steel girder a kilometre away.

    The company plans to make the laser weapons system mobile and to integrate automatic cannon.

    The 50kW laser weapons system used radar and optical systems to detect and track two incoming drones, the company said. The nose-diving drones were flying at 50 metres per second, and were shot down when they reached a programmed fire sector.


    The weapons system was used to shoot drones out of the air
    Weather trials
    The weapons system locked onto the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by using radar for a rough approximation of the location of the targets, then fine-tuned the tracking using an optical system.

    The high-energy laser system was used to cut through a 15mm-thick steel girder, and to shoot out of the air a steel ball designed to mimic a mortar round.

    The company has tested the laser system in a variety of weather conditions, including snow, sunlight, and rain.

    Rheinmetall plans to test its laser weapons mounted on different vehicles and to integrate a 35mm revolver cannon into it.

    A number of governments and defence firms are in the process of developing weapons that use or incorporate lasers. For example, Raytheon unveiled a 50kW anti-aircraft laser at the Farnborough Airshow in 2010, and in June 2012 the US Army released details of a weapon that can fire a laser-guided lightning-bolt at a target.

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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Its always going to be about power - until we have compact portable 100+ KW weapon power suppiles - these are probably going to be static or naval installations. Or possibly semi fixed installations composed of several vehicles. Dwell time required and system weight/size is important - when these directed energy can deposit the same amount of energy as a conventional projectile in the same time frame and with the same amount of equipment they will they be ready to replace guns. Even when they reach that capability - will they be able to do it cost effectively?
    "If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
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    Rheinmetall is doing it differently. Basically, they have a working, good 10 kW laser.

    For this trial, they built one turret with three of these lasers, and a second with two. Then they did some computer stuff and aimed all five 10 kW lasers in the two turrets on a single drone target firing concurrently for a 50 kW "impact". The trial used standard Rheinmetall/Oerlikon Skyguard anti-aircraft hardware - the system used to track the targets was a standard Skyguard fire control system, and the lasers were built into two Skyguard gun turrets (in place of the guns, they're different-generation turrets as you can see below).

    As you can see in the pic below they still need a rather huge power supply though - though to be fair it's no that huge, bit more R&D into that and they can pack that in a vehicle with that turret on top:
    Attachment 31524

    For 2013, Rheinmetall is planning a technology demonstrator for a combined effects C-RAM system that basically adds at least a pair of 30 kW laser turrets into a gun-based Skyguard/MANTIS C-RAM system in order to explore possible synergies of gun and laser weapons in these applications. As in for example, use the lasers to shoot thin-walled rockets coming in but the guns against heavier targets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    Its always going to be about power - until we have compact portable 100+ KW weapon power suppiles - these are probably going to be static or naval installations. Or possibly semi fixed installations composed of several vehicles. Dwell time required and system weight/size is important - when these directed energy can deposit the same amount of energy as a conventional projectile in the same time frame and with the same amount of equipment they will they be ready to replace guns. Even when they reach that capability - will they be able to do it cost effectively?
    Rather than the focus of replacing conventional weaponry, how practical is it for these lasers to be incorporated/upsized into missile defense technology - making something like SDI a reality? The Boeing YAL 747 was mothballed recently, but how practical are ground and ship based lasers for anti-missile duty where size/power is not a constraint?

    Gunzinger and Krepinevich: The Laser Future of U.S. Missile Defense - WSJ.com

    'We want LASERS for our $636m missile defense system': Military experts aim to revive Reagan's Star Wars defense system | Mail Online

    Both re-state the CSBA view that argue for cost-effectiveness of lasers in missile defense - from what a layman can see, the technology appears to be in its infancy and not able to challenge or replace the primacy held by ABMs, but is there scope for gradual introduction and deployment of this technology in this role, or is it sci-fi? What do the professionals think?

    However, a recent report by the influential Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) have calculated that economically, a non-laser based defence system could eventually become not only a waste of money, but those economic concerns could affect the nation's security.
    Speculating that each anti-ballistic missile costs anywhere from $3.3 million to $15 million each - and the Pentagon expects to take two shots to be sure of a hit - the enemy's missiles are considerably cheaper.
    At those rates, America would be expected to overcome an attack by North Korea, but China and Iran would simply be able to produce more missiles for less.

    The CSBA calls this a 'cost imposition' dynamic with the United States being the ones imposed upon.
    The solution from the CSBA is essentially the same as President Reagan's, which is to base the US missile defence system around lasers.
    These lasers would be placed in the care of the U.S. Navy and be called a solid-state laser and exist on platforms attached to navy AEGIS Cruisers.
    From a simple physics point of view, lasers travel at the speed of light, 671 million miles per hour, which is 50,000 times faster than the fastest missile ever created.
    And even though the laser would have to focus on the missile or warhead for a couple of seconds, that is deemed to be less of a technological problem than hitting a moving missile with another.
    The massive cost of producing the laser would be offset by its economy of scale once completed, because it can be fired repeatedly as long as it has a power source.

    Opponents of a missile based deterrent say that the expensive rockets can only be used once and that enemies might have a cheaper more plentiful source of missiles to fire at the U.S.
    The CSBA feels that instead of firing a one-time use $15 million missile that might miss, a laser powered by electricity would provide accuracy and economy.
    'We're currently on a path where an enemy can impose costs against us,' said the report's lead author Mark Gunzinger to AOL
    'If we can counter that million-dollar missile with a $10 or $20 beam of light, that's cost imposition against them.'
    Initially wanting to develop ship borne lasers to take down intermediate range and cruise missiles, the CSBA feels that an immediate effect of laser development would be to negate the fearsome effect of China's much-vaunted anti-aircraft carrier ballistic missile.

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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    Rheinmetall is doing it differently. Basically, they have a working, good 10 kW laser.

    For this trial, they built one turret with three of these lasers, and a second with two. Then they did some computer stuff and aimed all five 10 kW lasers in the two turrets on a single drone target firing concurrently for a 50 kW "impact". The trial used standard Rheinmetall/Oerlikon Skyguard anti-aircraft hardware - the system used to track the targets was a standard Skyguard fire control system, and the lasers were built into two Skyguard gun turrets (in place of the guns, they're different-generation turrets as you can see below).

    As you can see in the pic below they still need a rather huge power supply though - though to be fair it's no that huge, bit more R&D into that and they can pack that in a vehicle with that turret on top:
    Attachment 31524

    For 2013, Rheinmetall is planning a technology demonstrator for a combined effects C-RAM system that basically adds at least a pair of 30 kW laser turrets into a gun-based Skyguard/MANTIS C-RAM system in order to explore possible synergies of gun and laser weapons in these applications. As in for example, use the lasers to shoot thin-walled rockets coming in but the guns against heavier targets.
    It looks like capacitor banks under the turrets (one shot). The weapon itself and its capacitor bank may fit on a single heavy vehicle, but the ability to recharge it and keep it in action would probably still require some additional vehicles, and then there's the target aquistion, weapon guidence and control systems. What kinds of cyclic rates would this system provide? I am still sceptical about the sustained performance of a system like this in its current state of development. Its a good start, and it does have promise - but I don't see it replacing missiles in this decade. We may see some of this tech on naval ships in that time period though, suplementing other more proven systems.
    "If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridgeburner_ View Post
    Rather than the focus of replacing conventional weaponry, how practical is it for these lasers to be incorporated/upsized into missile defense technology - making something like SDI a reality?
    Not practical at all if we don't want to turn this into a giant base-sized thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    It looks like capacitor banks under the turrets (one shot).
    Definitely their individual capacitor banks. Dunno about one-shot.

    Going by the size of those containers and pics of Rheinmetall-designed large-scale pulsed capacitor banks realized in the last few years that i've seen, those could house at least a pair of 2.5 MJ capacitors. That'd be good for a hundred one-second shots.

    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    Its a good start, and it does have promise - but I don't see it replacing missiles in this decade.
    Missiles? Definitely not. Rheinmetall has a goal of exploring lasers only for AA purposes "up to a range of 7 km" btw (stated in 2003). That's SHORAD. At most.
    Last edited by kato; 09 Jan 13, at 21:52.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    Attachment 31524

    For 2013, Rheinmetall is planning a technology demonstrator for a combined effects C-RAM system that basically adds at least a pair of 30 kW laser turrets into a gun-based Skyguard/MANTIS C-RAM system in order to explore possible synergies of gun and laser weapons in these applications. As in for example, use the lasers to shoot thin-walled rockets coming in but the guns against heavier targets.
    The US Navy did that back in 2009 with LaWS. Now a 33kw laser system prototype. They want to upsize to 100KW.
    back in Apr of last year they demonstrated it against small boats from the USS Dewey

    Video: Navy Laser Sets Ship on Fire | Danger Room | Wired.com

    Notice the big generator on the Dewey. The didn't hook the test platform into the ships systems. Thats also why there is a target designator on the stern.
    When they tested it ashore, they used a R2D2 to get the laser pointed in the right direction.


    I think the Germans and US will have to solve 2 different problems. The Germans will have a major cooling problem (Navy has a big ocean to transfer heat). The US Navy,s problem will be power supply
    Last edited by Gun Grape; 09 Jan 13, at 22:52.
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

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    Senior Contributor DonBelt's Avatar
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    Attachment 31528 Already been done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    I think the Germans and US will have to solve 2 different problems. The Germans will have a major cooling problem (Navy has a big ocean to transfer heat). The US Navy,s problem will be power supply
    The Germans can put their in pools, USN can install theirs on (N) class vehicles?

    Just wondering.
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    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    Its always going to be about power - until we have compact portable 100+ KW weapon power suppiles - these are probably going to be static or naval installations. Or possibly semi fixed installations composed of several vehicles. Dwell time required and system weight/size is important - when these directed energy can deposit the same amount of energy as a conventional projectile in the same time frame and with the same amount of equipment they will they be ready to replace guns. Even when they reach that capability - will they be able to do it cost effectively?


    Axion's PbC hybrid battery-capacitor uses the standard lead acid battery positive electrode and a supercapacitor negative electrode made of activated carbon with an extremely high surface area. An array of those rack mounted inside of a shipping container (shown above) is something Axion calls a PowerCube, and markets that for modular short-term storage for utility-scale energy producers. Axion claims that their PowerCube "can be configured to deliver up to 1 MW of power for 30 minutes or 100 KW of power for 10 hours."

    Not small, but maybe a practicable means of powering a land portable radar directed laser weapon in a stabilized mount, might be Oshkosh's diesel electric HEMTT A3, which produces 100kW, maybe enough in combination with the PbC storage mentioned above.

    HEMTT A3 Diesel Electric : Oshkosh Defense

    Last edited by JRT; 10 Jan 13, at 05:12. Reason: adding pics
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    Rheinmetall gave another HEL demonstration last month, this time including mobile variants.

    HEL systems demoed:
    • "HEL Effector Air Defense": stationary turret with 30 kW laser and Skyguard 3 radar - 4 out of 5 steel balls fired from 82mm mortar destroyed; shooting down 3 jet UAVs
    • "HEL Mobile Effector Track V": 1 kW laser mounted in M113 APC - destroyed IEDs and UXO and cut through barbed wire
    • "HEL Mobile Effector Container L": 8x8 Tatra truck + 20ft TEU with 20 kW laser - cutting an electricity pole, destroying ammo boxes
    • "HEL Mobile Effector Wheel XX": 10 kW laser on Boxer GTK - destroying fuel cans, dazzling small surveillance VTOL UAV (guided by Skyguard 3 unit); intercepting technical with HMG by burning through its ammo belt, rendering the MG unusable


    Attachment 34240Attachment 34241
    Attachment 34242Attachment 34243

    Rheinmetall previously demoed the 1 kW laser now mounted on the M113 on a TM170 (standard APC of German police forces).
    Last edited by kato; 02 Nov 13, at 19:43.

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    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    Rheinmetall gave another HEL demonstration last month, this time including mobile variants.

    Rheinmetall previously demoed the 1 kW laser now mounted on the M113 on a TM170 (standard APC of German police forces).
    I can see a possible use for lasers systems as ATGM point defense systems on armored vehicles. Firstly the desired effective range can be reduced to no more than a few metres e.g 10-20. The number of 'shots' required can also be limited both of which brings the size of the capacitors/batteries down by a large factor. That said the engineering problems are still huge, I mean its not as if there's heaps of spare room in an M1A2 as it is - its not like you can just out the jacuzzi to make room!

    The systems in the photos above look like they take up most of the internal cargo volume of all the vehicles as it is and none of the laser systems do anything you cant do with a 50. cal. You want to 'dazzle' a surveillance drone or other observer? do it with 700 grains of lead traveling at 3000fps. I know it would dazzle me if I was on the receiving end.
    Last edited by Monash; 03 Nov 13, at 05:25.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    none of the laser systems do anything you cant do with a 50. cal. You want to 'dazzle' a surveillance drone or other observer? do it with 700 grains of lead traveling at 3000fps.
    Not at 2+ km distance. At least not with .50cal - with 30+mm that'd look differently. That's the range the 30 kW turret engaged the drones at (after radar picked 'em up popping out from behind cover somewhere around 3 km).

    MBDA is hard at work outdoing Rheinmetall in the race for future contracts btw. They have a containerized 40 kW laser tested at shooting down artillery shells at 2 km. Lockheed-Martin is also working on an identical solution (slightly less advanced, single laser source at 10 kW). Both Rheinmetall and MBDA are aiming for militarized mobile 100 kW solutions in the 2016-2018 timeframe.

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    Kato, the problem is still bulk/mass. For these systems to be utilized for anything other than static defense scenarios you need to be able to 'shoehorn' them into current or planned fighting vehicles while still leaving room for their other assigned functions. The exception would be a highly specialized laser 'flakpanzer' but for that you still need power sources that will allow multiple (scores) of 'shots' at a high power rating (i.e. one that that does a lot more than just cut barbed wire). How many shots do these current systems fire and at what rate before they have do go home to base to change the battery?

    Navy's will deploy these weapons in combat long before ground forces if only because panned transitions to 'electric' drives for new generations of warships mean that they will have the capacity to generate power or recharge capacitors long before units that are small enough to fit into combat vehicles can be deployed.
    Last edited by Monash; 03 Nov 13, at 05:44.

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    LockMars 10KW self contained close in system

    Lockheed Martin’s Area Defense Anti-Munitions (ADAM) system is a laser weapon system that is designed to defeat close-in improvised rocket and unmanned aerial system (UAS) threats. Lockheed Martin based the system on commercial hardware paired with the corporation’s beam control architecture and software to provide the performance needed for these types of threats.
    Providing short-range defense of high-value areas including forward operating bases, the ADAM system is designed to track targets at a range of more than 5 kilometers and to destroy targets at a range of up to 2 kilometers.
    This ground-based, transportable system is self-contained to conduct the full engagement sequence against rockets and accepts an initial external radar cue to engage UASs. For rocket threats, the ADAM system detects the threat and within seconds locks on the target and establishes an aim point. When the ADAM system declares a valid aim point, it fires the laser on the target long enough to negate the rocket or UAS.
    Lockheed Martin has successfully demonstrated the ADAM system in a series of tests against representative airborne targets in 2012.
    Lockheed Martin developed the ADAM system under independent research and development funding.
    Attachment 34246

    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

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