24th December 2012
In the “sure wish we had a video” category, aptly-monikered defense contractor Rheinmetall has run a highly successful test of its 50kW high-energy laser weapon. It works by hunting down incoming targets using a so-called Skyguard radar system, then locking in with an optical scanner before firing multiple, superimposed beams for extra energy. During the Swiss trials, the German-made HEL cannon managed to cut through a 15mm steel girder from over 3,200 feet away and knock down several drones diving at over 110 mph. Most impressively, the laser succeeded in dipatching an 82mm steel projectile in flight, showing the viability of beam-based weapons against potential mortar attacks. Rheinmetall has quintupled the power in just the last year, and plans to ramp up the juice to 60kW in 2013 trials, saying “nothing stands in the way” of a future 100kW system. Of course if that doesn’t work out, it could always start up a death metal band.