The Wawe 10,000 is the German police’s most modern water cannon. Dozens from all over Germany are in action at the G20 summit.
A WaWe 10,000 in action in Hamburg Photo: dpa
Its predecessors have grown tired of age, have developed rust and simply can no longer perform what is required of them. No wonder, they have a quarter of a century of service under their belts. So a new model was commissioned, the Water Cannon 10,000 Cobra, nicknamed the WaWe 10,000.
The WaWe is an angular powerhouse, clearly towering over its older brother. It looks like an armored monster rolled out of a science fiction movie. It’s almost as big as a coach, 31 tons gross vehicle weight, 408 hp, gray underneath, cobalt blue on top, no longer the old police green. There are safety reasons why the roof is slanted. No burning Molotov cocktails should be able to remain on it.
The WaWe is operated by five police officers, with the driver and an observer sitting in the front, and the two officers in the back next to the commander, who control the water cannons via joystick and camera. They can also use them to form a kind of water wall behind which their colleagues can advance on foot.
The water cannon’s tank holds 10,000 liters of water, 1,000 liters more than the previous model; it can be heated so that the water does not freeze in winter. When it is sprayed out up to 65 meters through one of the three pipes, tear gas can be added to it. At full stream, the tank is empty in less than three minutes.
What his parents don’t like to talk about: The WaWe can be quite dangerous. Officially, it is a comparable harmless "aid to physical force" and thus on a par with shackles or police dogs. But the consequences of its action can be quite violent. The water jet is so strong that demonstrators can suffer broken bones or concussions. Those who are hit in the face with the jet risk going blind.
The WaWe comes from Austria. It was developed and built by the Rosenbauer company, which otherwise mainly supplies fire departments with special vehicles. But it also has German roots, with Mercedes Benz supplying the chassis. The first prototype was delivered in 2009, and the police authorities of the federal and state governments are purchasing a total of ,000 by 2019. Unit price: around one million euros. Several dozen of them are now standing around in garages and on the streets of Hamburg. When in doubt, they spray everything that gets in their way.