The UK has begun testing its Dragonfire laser directed energy weapon (LDEW), which tracks air and sea targets with “exceptionally high” accuracy.
The trial reportedly utilized a low-power QinetiQ laser, a beam director from Leonardo, and MBDA’s image processing and control technology to demonstrate the weapon’s “ultra-precise” pointing and tracking capabilities.
It also demonstrated crucial sub-systems and features, including command and control, the effector management system, and “coarse” tracking to turn the laser toward the target.
According to MBDA Managing Director Chris Allam, the trial proves that the consortium has successfully overcome technical challenges in integrating unique innovations for the Dragonfire laser weapon.
“The success of these trials is a key step in the development of sovereign laser directed energy weapons,” he said. “It is the culmination of a lot of hard work from both the industry and the DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory).”
The next phase of the Dragonfire program will involve engaging targets in operationally representative scenarios.
Dragonfire Laser Weapon
Developed by an MBDA-led consortium, the Dragonfire offers various target engagement solutions depending on operational scenarios.
It can track, deter, and dazzle the sensors of a potential threat and damage or destroy enemy assets.
The weapon can also provide short-range air defense, protect friendly forces from mortar and artillery attacks, counter enemy drones, and provide close-in protection for naval vessels.
According to MBDA, one of the essential challenges of an LDEW system is safely controlling and focusing a high-power laser onto a precise point at extended ranges.
“The tracking trial was an excellent test of the component parts of the Dragonfire tracking system working together to do this,” the company explained.