Thursday 13 June, 2024
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UK DragonFire laser weapon system in successful trial

The DragonFire Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) system has successfully fired a laser weapon against aerial targets during a trial at the MOD Hebrides Range, marking the UK’s first high-power test of a laser weapon system.

The recent trial conducted by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the DragonFire partners, namely MBDA, Leonardo, and QinetiQ, is a continuation of several successful trials. These include the first static high-power laser firing of a UK-based sovereign capability, as well as a demonstration of the DragonFire system’s ability to track moving air and sea targets with great accuracy over long distances.

The UK DragonFire collaboration is a joint effort by the UK Ministry of Defence and the best of UK industries. It brings together several decades of expertise in weapon system manufacturing to provide enhanced layered air defence capabilities in both the land and maritime domains.

The advanced weapon system is the outcome of a £100 million joint investment by the UK industry and the Ministry of Defence. The companies involved in the collaboration are providing highly skilled jobs that focus on cutting-edge technologies. They are delivering a significant step-change in the UK’s capability in LDEW.

Firing it for 10 seconds is the cost equivalent of using a regular heater for just an hour. Therefore, it has the potential to be a long-term low-cost alternative to certain tasks missiles currently carry out. The cost of operating the laser is typically less than £10 per shot.

UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapp said: “This type of cutting-edge weaponry has the potential to revolutionise the battlespace by reducing the reliance on expensive ammunition, while also lowering the risk of collateral damage.”

“Investments with industry partners in advanced technologies like DragonFire are crucial in a highly contested world, helping us maintain the battle-winning edge and keep the nation safe.”

Dstl’s Chief Executive, Dr Paul Hollinshead said: “These trials have seen us take a huge step forward in realising the potential opportunities and understanding the threats posed by directed energy weapons.”

“With our decades of knowledge, skills, and operational experience, Dstl’s expertise is critical to helping the armed forces prepare for the future.”

Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of DefenceToday.com. Neil is also the editor of other online publications covering military history, defence and security. He can be found on Twitter: @NeilRitchie86.

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