UK DragonFire laser weapon completes successful test
The UK’s DragonFire laser-directed energy weapon (LDEW) system has passed a significant milestone by successfully firing against aerial targets at the UK MoD’s Hebrides Range off the north-west coast of Scotland.
The range of DragonFire has been classified, but the line-of-sight weapon can engage with any visible target and the test-firing was a first for the UK.
The latest trial was sponsored by the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology (DST) organisation and Strategic Programmes. The laser was enabled by many other agencies across government, ensuring all regulatory and safety approval requirements were satisfied.
Organisations and companies involved include Leonardo, MBDA and the UK MoD’s Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
Dstl said: “This milestone demonstrated the ability to engage aerial targets at relevant ranges and is a major step in bringing this technology into service. The technology is being considered by both the Army and Royal Navy as part of their future air defence capabilities.
“Building on this research, the MOD recently announced its intention to fund a multi-million-pound programme to transition the technology from the research environment to the battlefield.
“The latest milestone builds on a series of highly successful trials, including the first static high-power laser firing of a sovereign UK capability and demonstration of the DragonFire system's ability to track moving air and sea targets with very high accuracy at range.”
The development came from a 2017 £30 million (US$38-million) contract from the MoD’s Chief Scientific Advisor’s Research Programme awarded to the DragonFire consortium to demonstrate the potential of LDEWs and part of a £100 million effort with funding from other sources including industry.
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