DragonFire laser achieves another UK first


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

X96 Laser

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.

The latest trial, delivered by Dstl and the DragonFire partners - MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ – builds on a series of highly successful trials, including 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.

The UK DragonFire collaboration brings together the best of UK industry and leverages decades of weapon system manufacturing expertise to deliver enhanced layered air defence capabilities in the land and maritime domains.

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

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said: This type of cutting-edge weaponry has the potential to revolutionise the battlespace by reducing the reliance on expensive ammunition, while also lowering the risk of collateral damage.Investments with industry partners in advanced technologies like DragonFire are crucial in a highly contested world, helping us maintain the battle-winning edge and keep the nation safe.

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.

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. Leonardo is drawing on decades of laser technology heritage at our Edinburgh site in our work on the project: 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 (HEL) firing against aerial targets across its operational field of regard.

Steve Wadey, Group Chief Executive, QinetiQ said: Achieving the UK’s first high-power firing of a laser weapon against aerial targets at the QinetiQ-managed MOD Hebrides range is a significant milestone. Our world-leading science and technology capabilities have been applied to the continued development of our advanced coherent beam-combining technology which is delivering enhanced performance and scalability. I’m proud of the critical role we are playing in collaboration with industry partners and Dstl to support the development, test and evaluation of this sovereign capability.