The SkyRanger 30 HEL: Novel laser weapon with a 30mm revolving gun

To thwart a full range of airborne threats.
Ameya Paleja
The SkyRanger unit during displayRhinemetall

German defense manufacturer, Rhinemetall, has unveiled its Skyranger 30 HEL, a hybrid air defense system that is capable of firing guided missiles as well as laser beams at aerial threats. In addition to this, the Skyranger 30 HEL also features a 30 mm automatic cannon, completing its range of offerings to counter any type of aerial threats, the company said in its press release

Militaries around the world are keen to incorporate high-energy weapons in their arsenal to counter the rising threat from cheaply assembled drone swarms as well as sophisticated drones of adversaries. The weapon systems are being tested heavily and in different stages of their deployment. However, these are dedicated systems that need to be deployed in high-risk areas, in addition to conventional modes of defense. 

With the Skyranger 30 HEL, Rhinemetall has bundled the conventional and futuristic needs of defense in one neat package that can not only neutralize aerial threats but also scan the skies for them autonomously. The Skyranger 30 HEL borrows from Rhinemetall's extensive experience in ground-based air defense systems and sensing technologies to provide the ultimate solution for thwarting all sorts of aerial threats. 

The 30 mm revolving gun can fire up to 1,200 rounds a minute and is equipped with a programmable time delay ammunition that allows it to target even the smallest of targets, the press release said. The guided air missiles increase the Skyranger's range as well as operational flexibility. The High Energy Laser (HEL) is currently configured to deliver outputs of 20kW but can be increased to 100kW. 

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The hybrid system uses a matching mix of sensors to scan the skies for aerial threats and autonomously selects the response to an arriving threat. This ensures that there is always a mode of countermeasure available to tackle the threat and minimize collateral damage, the press release said. The entire system along with its entire range of capabilities can be integrated into either wheeled or tracked armored vehicles.

The SkyRanger HEL was publicly presented at a counter-drone event organized by the Swiss procurement agency late last year, the press release added.  

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