At MBDA Germany a concept for a high-energy laser weapon system is investigated, which is based on existing
industrial laser sources. Due to the enormous progress in the field of high-power fiber lasers, commercial industrial
fiber lasers are now available delivering a nearly-diffraction limited beam quality with power levels of up to 10 kW. By
using a geometric beam coupling scheme, a number of individual high-power fiber laser beams are combined together
using one common beam director telescope. A total laser beam power of more than 100 kW can be achieved, which is
sufficient for an operational laser weapon system.
The individual beams from the different lasers are steered by servo-loops using fast tip-tilt mirrors. This principle
enables the concentration of the total laser beam power at one common focal point on a distant target, also allowing
fine tracking of target movements and first-order compensation of turbulence effects on laser beam propagation. The
proposed beam combination concept was demonstrated by using different experimental set-ups. A number of
experiments were performed successfully to investigate laser beam target interaction and target fine tracking, also at
large distances and at moving targets. Content and results of these investigations are reported, which demonstrate the
complete engagement sequence for a C-RAM scenario. This includes subsequent steps of target acquisition by radar
and IR optics, followed by large angle coarse tracking, active fine tracking and destruction of the target by the laser
system. This successful implementation of geometric beam combining is an important step for the realization of a laser
weapon system in the near future.
The realization of a high-energy laser weapon system by coupling a large number of industrial high-power fiber lasers is investigated. To perform the combination of the individual beams of the different fiber lasers within the optical path of the laser weapon, a special optical set-up is used. Each optical component is realized either as reflective component oras refractive optics. Both possibilities were investigated by simulations and experiments. From the results, the general aspects for the layout of the beam-guidance optics for a high-power fiber laser system are derived.
Due to the enormous progress in the field of high-power fiber lasers during the last years commercial industrial fiber
lasers are now available, which deliver a near-diffraction limited beam with power levels up to10kW. For the realization
of a future laser weapon system, which can be used for Counter-RAM or similar air defence applications, a laser source
with a beam power at the level of 100kW or more is required. At MBDA Germany the concept for a high-energy laser
weapon system is investigated, which is based on such existing industrial laser sources as mentioned before. A number of individual high-power fiber laser beams are combined together, using one common beam director telescope. By this ‛geometric‛ beam coupling scheme, sufficient laser beam power for an operational laser weapon system can be achieved. The individual beams from the different lasers are steered by servo-loops, using fast tip-tilt mirrors. This principle enables the concentration of the total laser beam power at the common focal point on a distant target, also allowing fine tracking of target movements and first order compensation of turbulence effects on laser beam propagation. The proposed beam combination concept was demonstrated using several experimental set-ups. Different experiments were performed, to investigate laser beam target interaction and target fine tracking also at large distances. Content and results of these investigations are reported. An example for the lay-out of an Air Defence High Energy Laser Weapon (ADHELW ) is given. It can be concluded, that geometric high-power beam combining is an important step for the realization of a laser weapon system in the near future.
In asymmetric warfare scenarios, a major threat is caused by hostile attacks using mortars and artillery rockets
(RAM). Existing air defence weapons use missiles or cannons as effectors. These systems are well suited for
engagements against large air targets, such as aircraft, but they have strong drawbacks for the defence against attacks
of small targets, such as mortar grenades or artillery rockets.
High-energy laser weapons possess the abilities to be used successfully against such targets: i.e. a short reaction
time, a high accuracy, a strong impact on the target. Further, the costs per shot are low and they cause no collateral
damages. To counter such a RAM-threat by an effective laser weapon, only a short time scale is available. We
developed a laser-matter interaction simulation model to dimension the laser weapon. The main mechanisms of the
laser neutralisation of explosive devices are the conversion of the laser source photonic energy into heat on the shell
surface and the heat transfer to the explosive. The European consortium of the Air Defence – High-Energy Laser
Weapon Project (AD-HELW), composed of French, German, Polish and Portuguese specialists developed a system
layout of a complete air defence high-energy laser weapon system.