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UK Defense Ministry Awards £30M Weapons Contract to Dragonfire

Photonics Spectra
May 2017
LONDON — The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a £30 million ($36 million) contract to British industrial consortium Dragonfire for a laser-directed energy weapon (LDEW).

Operational laser weapons are 10 years away.
Concept of a laser directed energy weapon for point defense. Courtesy of MBDA.

The project will assess innovative LDEW technologies and approaches, culminating in a demonstration of a point defense system from incoming fire 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. If the demo is successful, the first laser weapons would come into service in the mid-2020s.

“This is a significant demonstration program aimed at maturing our understanding of what is still an immature technology,” said Peter Cooper at the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. “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 consortium is led by missile developer MBDA Inc. and comprised of BAE Systems, Leonardo, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and Qinetiq. Funding is provided by the £800 million ($985 million) Defence Innovation Fund.

UK Ministry of DefenceDragonfirelaser-directed energy weaponindustry movescontractEuropelasersdefenseindustrialopticsBusinesslight speed

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