UK Laser Weapon Engages Aerial Targets in Milestone Test

The UK’s DragonFire laser weapon achieved the country’s first high-power firing of a laser weapon against aerial targets.

The directed energy weapon achieved the milestone during a trial in Scotland, bringing the country a step closer to a weapon with “pinpoint accuracy” at a greatly reduced cost.

DragonFire is reportedly so accurate that its precision is said to be “equivalent to hitting a 1-pound coin from a kilometer [0.62 miles] away.”

Firing the weapon for 10 seconds to destroy a target is said to cost as much as using an electric heater for one hour at “less than 10 pounds per shot.”

The DragonFire

Development of the directed energy weapon is led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence with industry partners MBDA, Leonardo, and QinetiQ.

Such weapons engage targets at light speed with an intense beam of energy, cutting through a target and leading to structural failure. They eliminate the need for expensive ammunition while lowering the risk of collateral damage.

DragonFire’s most recent test is the latest of several “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 range.”

The test demonstrated the platform’s capacity “to engage aerial targets at relevant ranges” as “a major step in bringing this technology into service.”

The UK Royal Navy and Army are both reportedly considering using the technology as part of their future air defense capabilities.

“These trials have seen us take a huge step forward in realising the potential opportunities and understanding the threats posed by directed energy weapons,” DSTL Chief Executive Dr. Paul Hollinshead said.

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