The high energy loss of heavy ions in matter as well as the small angular scattering makes heavy ion beams an excellent tool to produce almost cylindrical and homogeneously excited volumes in matter. This aspect can be used to pump short wavelength lasers. For the first time, a beam of heavy ions was used to pump a short wavelength gas laser in an experiment performed at the GSI ion accelerator facility in December 2005. In this experiment, the well-known KrF* excimer laser was pumped with an intense uranium beam. Pulses of an uranium beam compressed down to 110 ns (full width at half maximum) with initial particle energy of 250 MeV per nucleon were stopped inside a gas laser cell. A mixture of an excimer laser premix gas (95.5%Kr + 0.5%F2) and a buffer gas (Ar) in different proportions was used as the laser gas. The maximum beam intensity reached in the experiment was 2.5 × 109 particles per pulse, which resulted in 34 J/g specific energy deposited in the laser gas. The laser effect on the transition at λ = 248 nm has been successfully demonstrated by various independent methods. There, the laser threshold was reached with a beam intensity of 1.2 × 109 particles per pulse, and the energy of the laser pulse of about 2 mJ was measured for an ion beam intensity of 2 × 109 particles per pulse. As a next step, it is planned to reduce the laser wavelength down to the vacuum ultraviolet spectral region, and to proceed to the excimer lasers of the pure rare gases. The perspectives for such experiments are discussed and the detailed estimations for Xe and Kr cases are given. We believe that the use of heavy ion beams as a pumping source may lead to new pumping schemes on the higher lying level transitions and considerably shorter wavelengths, which rely on the high cross sections for multiple ionization of the target species.