Laser Shoots Down Drone In German Test


A European defense company had a successful test using a laser weapon to track and take down an unmanned aerial system, opening up a host of potential anti-drone uses. MBDA Deutschland, which designs guided missile systems as well as high-energy laser weapons, announced this week it maneuvered a small drone at its test site in Schrobenhausen, Germany and, from a range of about 1,600 feet, destroyed it “within seconds of the start of the test.” The exercise proved “the laser effector’s capability to combat realistic targets with precision, speed and safety.” The weapon features high-precision tracking technology and can concentrate energy into a single laser beam. “These processes make it possible to combat small, highly agile targets reliably,” the company said. MBDA is a joint venture among three European aerospace-defense companies – Airbus Group, BAE Systems and Finmeccanica.

The concept has obvious military combat applications, but when it comes to the proliferation of drones, MBDA said laser weapons like the one tested can be used for civilian protection. The company cited the growing number of security problems caused by drones, including the crash of a small UAS a couple of yards from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other dignitaries in 2013. Laser weapons could be designed to “protect major events and critical infrastructures and close a current capability gap,” it said. Drone-related security breaches in the U.S. include a quadcopter crash on the White House lawn in January, prompting the Secret Service to look for ways to detect and deter them.