DragonFire laser breaks new ground in UK

The DragonFire laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) system was able to fire the first high-power firing of a laser weapon against aerial targets in the UK, during the recent trial carried out by DragonFire partners MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ.

The latest trials included 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 long range.

Prominent actors of UK industry joined forces to deliver enhanced layered air defence capabilities in the land and maritime domains.

It is stated in a statement made by MBDA, that the DragonFire LDEW system is a £100 million joint investment by both the industry and UK MoD, which enables the companies involved to support ‘new cutting-edge technologies’ that are contributing to a ‘significant step-change’ in the UK’s capability.

Chris Allam, Managing Director, MBDA UK, said: “Together, the DragonFire partners and Dstl are demonstrating exceptional UK capability in laser directed energy weapons. The DragonFire system has been successfully proven to date and we are now closer than ever to having a unique weapon that will enable frontline commands to meet the rapidly changing threats they face.”

Mark Hamilton, Managing Director Electronics UK, Leonardo said: “UK Dragonfire is a great example of how a partnership-based UK enterprise approach can be successfully applied to a major national research and technology challenge. Leonardo is drawing on decades of laser technology heritage at our Edinburgh site in our work on the project: Our beam director technology is delivering ultra-precise tracking/pointing accuracy and stability, at long range, and whilst handling such high-power laser energy passing through it. We’re pleased to have successfully tested the system against a representative aerial target at varying ranges, altitudes and speeds, supporting the first UK High Energy Laser (HEL) firing against aerial targets across its operational field of regard.”

Steve Wadey, Group Chief Executive Officer, QinetiQ said: “Achieving the UK’s first high-power firing of a laser weapon against aerial targets at the QinetiQ-managed MOD Hebrides range is a significant milestone. Our world-leading science and technology capabilities have been applied to the continued development of our advanced coherent beam-combining technology, which is delivering enhanced performance and scalability. I’m proud of the critical role we are playing in collaboration with industry partners and Dstl to support the development, test and evaluation of this sovereign capability.”

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