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Ray gunsU.K. to develop laser directed energy weapons

Published 6 January 2017

The U.K. Ministry of Defense (MOD) has awarded £30 million contract to produce Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) Capability Demonstrator to U.K. Dragonfire consortium, led by MBDA. The project will assess innovative LDEW technologies and approaches, culminating in a demonstration of the system in 2019. The contract will assess how the system can pick up and track targets at various ranges and in varied weather conditions over land and water, to allow precision use.

The U.K. Ministry of Defense (MOD) has awarded £30 million contract to produce Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) Capability Demonstrator to U.K. Dragonfire consortium, led by MBDA. The project will assess innovative LDEW technologies and approaches, culminating in a demonstration of the system in 2019. The contract will assess how the system can pick up and track targets at various ranges and in varied weather conditions over land and water, to allow precision use.

The project will inform decisions on the future of the program and help the MOD’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) establish a road map to an in-service capability. If it is successful, the first laser weapons would come into service in the mid-2020s.

Minister for Defense Procurement, Harriet Baldwin said: “The U.K. has long enjoyed a reputation as a world leader in innovation and it is truly ground-breaking projects like the Laser Directed Energy Weapon which will keep this country ahead of the curve.”

The Defense Innovation Initiative and £800 million Defense Innovation Fund aim to encourage imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, in pursuit of maintaining a military advantage in the future.

MOD says that with a rising Defense budget, and a £178 billion equipment plan, MOD’s commitment to innovation will deliver a safer and more prosperous Britain.

DSTL’s Peter Cooper added: “This is a significant demonstration program aimed at maturing our understanding of what is still an immature technology. It draws on innovative research into high power lasers so as to understand the potential of the technology to provide a more effective response to the emerging threats that could be faced by UK armed forces.”

The U.K. Dragonfire consortium includes partners from across the United Kingdom, including MDBA, QinetiQ, Leonardo-Finmeccanica GKN, Arke, BAE Systems, and Marshall ADG.