Skyranger 30 HEL Is the Doomsday Anti-Aircraft Machine, Shoots High-Energy Laser

Believe it or not, the time when lasers are used for offensive or defensive purposes is here. Long advertised in sci-fi flicks and literature, the use of laser for military purposes is getting increased attention from military contractors around the world.
Rheinmetall Skyranger 30 8 photos
Photo: Rheinmetall/
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One of the biggest such companies in this field is German Rheinmetall, which is producing anything from wheeled and tracked armored vehicles (including the mighty Leopard tank) to unmanned machines and weapons systems.

The latest addition to the roster of weapons systems is something called Skyranger 30 HEL. Described as a mobile air defense unit, it is the latest entry in a family that comprises four other variants so far.

The system can be fitted on both wheeled and tracked machines, including the Boxer and Lynx KF41. It comprises sensors and three types of weapons: an automatic cannon, missiles, and a high-energy laser.

The cannon is a 30 mm beast with a rate of fire of 1,200 rounds per minute, and it’s capable of firing programmable time-delay ammunition (for illustration purposes, the video below shows the Skyranger gun in action during a live demonstration held back in 2018.).

If the detected airborne target, no matter its type, can outsmart those rounds, the Skyranger can make use of the missiles it is equipped with.

But the fanciest weapon this thing comes with is the high-energy laser (HEL), which can track targets automatically and shoot them down with, well, light.

Eventually, Rheinmetall plans for HEL to be able to deliver outputs of 100 kW from the system, but for the initial production run, laser outputs of up 20-50 kW are planned.

The Skyranger 30 HEL was first shown in prototype form last year, during a counter-drone event held in Switzerland, but it was only this week the company released more details about it.

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Editor's note: Gallery shows various Skyranger systems.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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