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UK: Royal Navy to equip warships with DragonFire laser system 5 years ahead of schedule.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by the UK MoD on April 12, 2024, the UK's Royal Navy is set to equip its warships with the state-of-the-art DragonFire laser system by 2027, five years.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 DragonFire laser system at DSEI, UK. (Picture source: MBDA)

The DragonFire system, capable of striking targets with precision akin to hitting a pound coin from a kilometer away, represents a cost-effective solution at approximately £10 per engagement. It is particularly designed to counter threats from drones and missiles effectively.

Previously slated for a 2032 rollout, the advanced laser weapon will now be operational due to prioritized development and streamlined procurement processes. Developed under a contract from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), DragonFire has been brought to fruition through collaborations with domestic firms including MBDA, Leonardo, and QinetiQ.

The procurement reforms are expected to address and rectify previous challenges such as overly complex, delayed, and over-budget programmes. The new model includes additional oversight mechanisms like the Integration Design Authority, hosted by UK Strategic Command, which will offer expert advice to ensure better integration and coherence in procurement.


The DragonFire laser system employs beam-combining technology developed in the UK, which enhances the power density of the laser beam, shortens the time required to neutralize threats, and extends its effective range. The specifics of this technology involve the use of multiple glass fibers, though the complete details of the technical methodology are classified.

The system includes an electro-optical camera and a lower-power laser used for imaging and tracking targets, all integrated into a turret setup. The laser is classified as being in the 50 kW range and is engineered to protect both land and maritime assets from various threats, including missiles and mortar rounds. The energy requirements for the DragonFire may be supported by a Flywheel Energy Storage System (FESS), an ongoing collaborative innovation between the UK and the US.

The UK plans to deploy high-energy laser systems like the DragonFire across the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force. This includes potential installations on Royal Navy Type 23 frigates and British Army Wolfhound armoured vehicles, as well as integration into the BAE Systems Tempest fighter aircraft.

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