Heiko Meißner looks satisfied through the thick clouds of smoke at the riddled target. An olive-colored gun turret can be guessed through the fog as the cause. “So far, the pipes have lasted longer than expected,” states the 50-year-old from Emsland.
Meißner is the test manager at the Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Waffen und Munitions in Meppen and has been firing the Mantis anti-aircraft gun incessantly into an earth wall for several days.
Mantis is called “Modular, Automatic and Network-Capable Targeting and Interception System”. It consists of several sensor units, an operating and fire control center and several turrets. "Mantis was procured in 2011 to protect German military camps abroad and can fight threats from the air with up to six 35 mm automatic cannons," explains Heiko Meißner. Each of these guns can fire up to 1,000 rounds per minute.
However, before the new pipes can be delivered to the Air Force, the quality of the new production series must be examined by the WTD Defense Technology Office 91. "We shoot until the pipes break and measure beforehand, in between and afterwards in order to check the properties and performance data of the new pipes," explains Heiko Meißner the process.
Numerous areas of the WTD Defense Technical Service 91 are involved. “Our workshops have welded and built. The measurement technicians are there and have X-rayed the pipes. The ammunition arsenal and the weapons technicians were on site and many more, ”says Meißner, listing his helpers. "Not to forget the manufacturer, who has been actively supporting us with the implementation for weeks."
Heiko Meißner himself can also rely on his many years of experience as a soldier. “I was deployed in the Lorup ammunition depot until 2009,” says the native of Lingen. “Since then, I've been with WTD Defense Technical Service 91 in Meppen.” In addition to Mantis, he is also responsible for the tests relating to the new Puma armored personnel carrier. “I won't get bored,” says the technical officer with a smile.
Around 4,000 rounds and three pipes are used up at the end of the Mantis tests. The results are now reported by Meppen to the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr in Koblenz, which is responsible for procurement. There is now a short break for the perforated targets. "Our gun here has already fired a total of 22,000 rounds and now deserves a break," says Heiko Meißner and looks satisfied again through the smoke at the perforated target.