This is the moment a German warship shows off its futuristic firepower as it tests a high-energy Star Wars-style laser blaster on a moving target.
Video footage of the breakthrough shows the weapon – fired from a frigate at sea – tracking a drone being flown along the shoreline.
As the new weapon comes online there is a flash of bright light and the drone bursts into flames and falls out of the sky.
The laser blaster is designed to take out fast-moving missiles, attack drones, small high-speed stealth boats and even mortar shells, military chiefs later explained.
The images were obtained from the Bundeswehr – the German Armed Forces – on 27th October, with a statement saying: “The first live shot with a high energy laser weapon against a dynamic target was successfully performed.”
It went on: “Involved in the one-year trial so far: our WTD71 [Bundeswehr Technical Centre for Ships and Naval Weapons, Maritime Technology and Research] and WTD91 [Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition] and the German Navy together with the industry.”
The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support’s Press and Information Centre said in a statement: “On board the ‘Saxony’ frigate, the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the German Armed Forces (BAAINBw) is currently testing the use of a high-energy laser weapon against enemy drones and attacking missiles, together with specialists from Defence Technical Services 71 and 91 and the German Navy.
“In this context, a live shot was fired for the first time at sea in front of the Putlos military training area and the test results show that the laser weapon has the potential to meaningfully expand the capabilities of the Bundeswehr.”
The Bundeswehr press office added: “After almost 10 years of intensive research into laser effectors, the results of these efforts have been bundled into a demonstrator that integrates the entire functionality in a 20-foot container – from reconnaissance and data processing to combat with a high-energy laser.
“The laser weapon demonstrator was already scaffolded on the frigate ‘Sachsen’ at the end of June 2022 in order to test it under realistic operational conditions in the maritime environment.
“For this purpose, the BAAINBw developed an extensive test programme with demanding test scenarios on land, on water and in the air, in which the laser weapon demonstrator is to prove its suitability during a test lasting almost a year.
“As part of a test campaign in October 2022, proof has now been provided that dynamic targets can be successfully combated under realistic conditions.”
The statement quotes an unnamed project manager at the BAAINBw saying: “Due to its capabilities, a future system is particularly suitable for combating small and agile targets, such as drones or speedboats, at close range and at close range. Defence against mortar shells and guided missiles is also conceivable.”
The project manager added: “These tests lay the foundation for the possible development of an operational laser weapon system for the German Navy.”