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Breaking News: UK Achieves Landmark in Defence with Successful Test of High-Power Laser Weapon.

| Defense News Army 2024

The United Kingdom (UK) Ministry of Defence (MoD) has achieved a groundbreaking milestone in modern warfare technology. On January 19, 2024, the DragonFire laser-directed energy weapon (LDEW) system successfully completed the UK's first high-power firing against aerial targets at the UK MoD’s Hebrides Range.
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During a trial at the UK MOD’s Hebrides Range, the DragonFire laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) system achieved the UK’s first high-power firing of a laser weapon against aerial targets. (Picture source UK MoD)

DragonFire, a line-of-sight weapon, demonstrated its remarkable capabilities by engaging visible targets with unprecedented precision and efficiency. The system's range remains classified, but its accuracy is likened to hitting a £1 coin from a kilometer away. This level of precision marks a significant advancement in targeting capabilities and minimizes the risk of collateral damage.

One of the most striking features of the DragonFire system is its cost-effectiveness. Operating the laser costs less than £10 per shot, and firing it for 10 seconds is equivalent to the cost of running a regular heater for an hour. This economical aspect presents a long-term, low-cost alternative to traditional missile systems, potentially revolutionizing military budgeting and logistics.

The project is led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), on behalf of the UK MoD, in collaboration with industry giants MBDA, Leonardo, and QinetiQ. This partnership underscores the UK's commitment to harnessing home-grown technology and expertise in developing advanced defense systems.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapp lauded the achievement, highlighting the potential of such cutting-edge weaponry to transform the battlespace by reducing reliance on expensive ammunition. The latest trials build upon a series of successful tests, including static high-power laser firings and tracking demonstrations against moving air and sea targets.

Dstl’s Chief Executive, Dr Paul Hollinshead, emphasized the significance of these trials in understanding the opportunities and threats posed by directed energy weapons. The DragonFire system is the culmination of a £100 million joint investment by the MoD and industry, reflecting a substantial commitment to advancing the UK’s capabilities in LDEW systems.

The UK MoD (Ministry of Defense) has announced plans to fund a multi-million-pound program to transition the technology from research to battlefield application, highlighting the nation's ongoing investment in game-changing technologies. Dr Nick Joad of DST remarked on the innovative application of science and engineering that DragonFire represents, providing superior performance compared to similar class systems.

Shimon Fhima, Director of Strategic Programmes for the MoD, stated that the Hebrides trials demonstrated the UK's world-leading technology in tracking and engaging high-end effects at range. The focus now shifts to accelerating the next phase of activity and bringing these capabilities to the warfighter.

The DragonFire LDEW system not only marks a pivotal advancement in military technology but also underscores the UK’s role as a leader in defense innovation and technology, bolstering its position in a highly contested global landscape.

UK Achieves Landmark in Defence with Successful Test of High Power Laser Weapon Breaking News 925 001
DragonFire is led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), on behalf of the UK MOD, working with its industry partners MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ. (Picture UK MoD)

Defense News January 2024

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