DragonFire laser weapon achieves high-power firing

The DragonFire laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) system has achieved the UK’s first high-power firing of a laser weapon against aerial targets during a trial at the MOD Hebrides Range.

Trials by MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ with Dstl deliver first high power firing against aerial targets
Trials by MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ with Dstl deliver first high power firing against aerial targets - DragonFire consortium

Delivered by Dstl and the DragonFire partners - MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ – the trial builds on 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.

In a statement ,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.”

The DragonFire weapon system is the result of a £100m joint investment by industry and the UK Ministry of Defence, and together the companies involved are supporting UK jobs in new pioneering technologies that are delivering a significant step-change in the UK's capability in LDEW systems.

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.

“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 firing against aerial targets across its operational field of regard.”

The range of DragonFire is classified, but it is a line-of-sight weapon and can engage with any visible target. The cost of operating the laser is typically less than £10 per shot.