UK MoD Dstl Hosts DragonFire Laser Directed Energy Weapon Trial
UK MoD Dstl Hosts DragonFire Laser Directed Energy Weapon Trial

UK MoD Dstl Hosts DragonFire Laser Directed Energy Weapon Trial

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and its partners in the DragonFire consortium have successfully carried out the first static high power laser firing of a sovereign UK capability at the Dstl’s range in Porton Down on 17th October 2022. Using QinetiQ’s phase-combined laser demonstrator, generating in the order of 50kW of power, focused by Leonardo’s Beam Director and delivered using MBDA’s advanced image processing and command and control (C2) system, the trials showed that DragonFire could safely control and focus a high power laser onto an extremely precise point at long range. The next step will be to combine the outcomes of these first two trials, pairing the proven tracking accuracy and the high power laser, by engaging targets in operationally representative scenarios.

Mark Hamilton, Managing Director Electronics UK, Leonardo said: “The DragonFire project draws on our decades of high energy laser and beam director heritage to put the UK at the very forward edge of what is possible in laser technology. The results of this live trial, which saw our beam director integrated into the DragonFire system, were impressive. We are looking forward to the next stages of the programme.”

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Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK, said, “These successful trials are the latest step in accelerating delivery of a UK sovereign laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) capability. MBDA, Leonardo, QinetiQ and Dstl working together are putting the UK at the forefront of research & technology in this field. The results from these trials have verified analysis and given the team confidence that DragonFire will offer a near term and unique capability.”

The firing was part of a second set of tests in a series of trials to prove the accuracy and power of the novel DragonFire laser weapon. The first trials, announced in July 2022, proved DragonFire can successfully track, and hit, air and sea targets with exceptionally high accuracy. The programme’s specialist industry partners are: MBDA, with overall responsibility for the system; MBDA have developed the advanced command and control (C2) and image processing capabilities; Leonardo, who have developed the beam director which can track and point at targets with pin-point accuracy and QinetiQ’s laser experts, who have built a phase-combined laser capable of generating in the order of 50kW of power, with the ability in the future to scale fire-power levels.

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