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MBDA and ALPhANOV Inaugurate Laser Vulnerability Test Facility

Supports R&D for Future Laser Weapons

MBDA and ALPhANOV, the Aquitaine-based laser and optics specialist, inaugurated a common Vulnerability Test Facility (VTF) in Bordeaux at the end of March.

The new facility, in development since 2016, is designed to test the effects of lasers on materials. To do this, the site uses adjustable 1-10kW laser power sources and multiple measurement means (fast, visible and infrared imaging, pyrometers, thermocouples, etc.) to monitor the effects delivered by the lasers. The cooperation between the two organisations includes completion of the VTF and its joint implementation for a four-year period.

The VTF has the ability to simulate many conditions of a real-life laser firing, including: imperfections in pointing a dynamic beam; use against crossing and spinning targets; and complex interactions between the laser and target materials. This will assist in the definition of requirements for the individual components and functions of a laser weapon, such as laser source, aiming accuracy, beam focus, etc., as well as the optimisation of future laser system architectures against various types of potential targets, including aircraft, missiles, drones, shells, optical sensors, vehicles and naval vessels.

Adding to MBDA’s unique technical capabilities in Europe, the VTF may contribute to the on-going projects we are conducting for our German and British customers, as it will allow us to specify our future laser weapons in order to meet the exact needs of our military customers. This test facility is a major milestone on the path to a complete mastering of laser weapons and to strategic autonomy in this area. This is the objective of MBDA, as well as the objective of our domestic nations; now shared by Europe through its policy of Permanent Structured Cooperation,” observed MBDA CEO, Antoine Bouvier.

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