Aug. 12 (UPI) -- German defense contractors Rheinmetall and MBDA Deutschland will build a high-energy laser for installation aboard a German navy ship.
While performance specifications or timetables have not yet been developed by the government Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, the announcement last week is the first time the German military has entered the arena of laser weapon development.
Plans call for the two companies to construct, integrate and test a laser demonstrator aboard a K-130-class corvette. Also called the Braunschweig class of small warships, it is Germany's newest class of ocean-going corvettes, with five ships entering service to replace the German navy's Gepard-class fast attack craft.
"We're going to be cooperating very closely to put the military potential of laser technology to work for the Bundeswehr, boosting its operational readiness and combat effectiveness," said Werner Kramer, managing director of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH. "Compared to other countries, too, our two companies possess extraordinary capabilities. Lasers offer new tactical possibilities on land, at sea and in the air. In partnership with the German navy, we want to press ahead with this new technology."
The United States first began development of non-lethal lasers for military use in 2014, and now routinely awards contracts to defense and technology companies for military laser development.
China and Russia also have laser technology programs, and in July Britain's Ministry of Defense announced that it seeks developers of laser- and radio frequency-guided weapons to shoot down drones and other enemy threats.
Later in July, France also revealed plans to use ground-based lasers to protect its satellites in space.