UK's Laser Weapons Program Begins Trials

  • Our Bureau
  • 02:27 PM, July 18, 2022
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UK's Laser Weapons Program Begins Trials
Dragonfire laser weapon @MBDA

British laser weapon Dragonfire designed under Laser Directed Energy Programme (LDEW) led by MBDA, has successfully begun a series of trials.

The first of these trials recently conducted by the Dragonfire consortium – a joint industry and UK MOD collaboration between MBDA, Leonardo, QinetiQ and Dstl – at low power proved the system can track air and sea targets.

This has paved the way for the next phase of the trials that will deliver a first for UK industry when carrying out a static high power laser trial, while maintaining aimpoint accuracy. The next step would then look to combine the outcomes of these two trials, pairing the recently proven tracking accuracy and the high power laser, by engaging targets in operationally representative scenarios.

The essential challenge of an LDEW system is safely controlling and focusing high laser power onto an extremely precise point, at long range. The tracking trial was an excellent test of the component parts of the Dragonfire tracking system working together to do this.

This trial used a low power QinetiQ laser, Leonardo’s beam director and MBDAs Image Processing and Control technology to facilitate the ultra-precise “fine” pointing and tracking accuracy, which will be required to generate the damage effect when a high-powered laser will be used.

Other sub systems including the C2, Effector Management System (EMS) and “coarse” tracking – turning the laser towards the target – were also proved in the trial.

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