Laser weapons play an important role in many sci-fi films. In reality, however, there is still no fully functional product. This could change soon. Numerous states are already experimenting with appropriate systems. For example, laser cannons have already been mounted on ships in the United States for test purposes. The Bundeswehr would like to follow a similar path now. The officials there are therefore currently in the process of drawing up a catalog of requirements, which will be sent to the participating industrial companies later this month. Subsequently, a first test product is installed on a corvette and tested there for two years. The experience gained could then help to develop a fully operational product.
Laser weapons are characterized by two advantages
Basically, laser weapons bring with them a number of advantages. So they can – if they are supplied with power – make unlimited shots. The shooter does not have to fear that he runs out of ammunition. In addition, the weapon can be used much more precisely, because the effect can be dosed. This can be beneficial for warning shots. The high precision could also be used to hit only certain parts of a target object. Ideally, for example, at first only the engine of an attacking speedboat could be destroyed without completely sinking the boat. But for the shooter this is also an additional challenge because he always has to adapt the effect to the current situation.
The Bundeswehr relies on domestic developments
The biggest challenge for the manufacturers is currently the development of sufficiently strong laser sources. Currently, the United States is in the lead here. There are already lasers with an output of 60 kilowatts. For comparison: The planned for use on the Bundeswehr Corvette laser has a 20-kilowatt source. Nevertheless, the Bundeswehr does not simply want to buy laser weapons abroad, but rather relies on domestic production. For this reason, the German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall and the German spin-off of the European MBDA group were forced to cooperate. So far, both companies work on their own on the development of laser weapons. For the mission of the Bundeswehr, they are now cooperating for the first time for a project.