The use of small, affordable drones is spreading fast around the world. And with that explosive growth comes the increasing risk of terrorist attacks using the unmanned flying machines. An experimental laser weapon developed in Germany is drawing attention as a potentially effective tool for keeping the bad guys out of the skies.
The Japanese government is already showing interest in the device, made by German missile manufacturer MBDA Deutschland. The country is scheduled to host the Group of Seven summit next year, and officials here want to make it as safe as possible. That includes keeping drones away from venues where global leaders will be gathering.
MBDA’s weapon can destroy a small drone from a distance of 500 meters in just 3 seconds. Laser devices are widely expected to become a mainstream form of weaponry, but their applications are currently limited and largely in the experimental phase. The U.S. Navy is testing a laser weapon designed to disable enemy boats and aircraft approaching its ships. But that weapon is relatively large and designed for maritime use. In contrast, MBDA’s device is so small that it can be loaded into a vehicle and carried just about anywhere.
The device produces four beams that merge to form a single beam. It automatically tracks and locks on to the flying targets. At an international air show held in Paris earlier this month, MBDA impressed audiences with a video it showing its weapon targeting and shooting down a drone in a process that took just 3.39 seconds.