DN - Defence Notes

QinetiQ opens new laser research facility

28th November 2017 - 12:11 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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QinetiQ has opened a new facility for the development and testing of advanced laser technology at its headquarters in Farnborough, UK, the company announced on 24 November.

The new facility, named Dragonworks, will be a centre for all technologies associated with high-energy lasers for military or commercial applications. It includes a clean-room to enable work with sensitive optical equipment to be conducted away from contaminants, and a Reflective Hazard Assessment Tool, designed to examine how laser energy is reflected from different surfaces. Further additions to the facility over the coming months will allow for customers to conduct full-scale testing of high-energy lasers.

The first project to be undertaken at Dragonworks will be the assembly and testing of the laser directed energy weapon currently in development by the UK’s Dragonfire consortium, led by MBDA.

Components are expected to arrive in early 2018, when the company will begin building the weapon’s laser source in the purpose-built clean room. The laser source will undergo a process of evaluation and adjustment before being integrated with Leonardo’s beam director.

The project will culminate in operation at full-power under test conditions inside the facility in summer 2018, before being transported to MoD Shoeburyness for long-range outdoor trials later in the year. Data collected using the RHAT will inform the safety case for the current and future trials, ensuring the reflectivity of targets is understood and any risk mitigated accordingly.

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