Japanese Laser-based Counter-UAS Developments Break Cover

MHI C-UAS laser prototype
MHI C-UAS laser prototype.

Japanese laser-based Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) developments were on display, at the just concluded DSEI Japan. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) both demonstrated prototype C-UAS efforts at the show.

MHI has been developing 10 and 20-kW C-UAS laser systems, with prototype demonstrations for both having been made to the Japanese military in 2020. The C-UAS laser prototype displayed at the show was MHI’s sole working prototype. A company spokesperson told AMR, that system would be only offered to the Japanese military as a complete system and would not be exported. Developmental work continues, even as MHI is working to secure a contract for the programme.

MHI’s C-UAS laser is mounted on a 6X6 vehicle and has demonstrated the ability to destroy drone targets out to range of 1.2 km. It has multi-target engagement capability as well.

KHI also showcased its High Energy Laser System being developed in partnership with Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) and Ministry of Defence. KHI began acquisition of elemental technology for a lased based Very Short-Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) system in the year 2000. This programme commence with the development of chemical lasers in 2000 with minor basic research, followed by work done on drone detection and targeting for a future system.

This effort transitioned to a major research programme in 2010 moving from a 10kW laser to 50kW laser power. By 2020, KHI’s VSHORAD programme had moved to use of solid-state lasers with laser power increasing from 50kW to 100Kw. A major Research & Development Programme is now underway at KHI to develop a High Energy Laser based Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) system. This will be a ground-based system.

KHI also showcased a light vehicle mounted C-UAS laser system at the show, with the sole prototype on display. The 2kW high energy laser system is mounted on a four wheel Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX vehicle. The laser system is mounted on a gimbal system and features a tracking imager. It can engage target out to distances of 100m at present.

Kawasaki C-UAS laser prototype
Kawasaki C-UAS laser prototype

by Asian Military Review, DSEI Japan 2023