HEL weapon shows its warfare potential

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A high-energy laser designed for the battlefield has demonstrated its effectiveness in warfare scenarios, including air defence.

Rheinmetall, a defense and automotive technology firm, has announced it has successfully tested its 50kW high energy laser (HEL) technology demonstrator.

The company says the demonstration saw the 50kW HEL weapon cut through a 15mm-thick steel girder at a distance of 1,000m. The laser also shot down several fast moving target drones at a range of 2,000m.

The laser uses modular technology, which according to Rheinmetall, makes it possible to maintain a good beam quality while increasing the overall performance. The next step will be to create a 100kW HEL.

The test was conducted in Switzerland, in cold but bright conditions. The test was initially to demonstrate the increase in efficiency of the company's 50kW HEL weapon compared with its previous 10kW version. The 10kW version was demonstrated in 2011.

The tests were also intended to show that separate HEL weapon stations can irradiate a single target in a superimposed, cumulative manner.