Friday 6 January 2017

UK Military Awarded A £30M Contract To Develop Laser Weapons


The prospect of UK forces being armed with laser weapons has taken a step closer to reality with the awarding of a £30m Ministry of Defence contract.

The deal, announced on Thursday, is to assess the potential of the laser as a weapon, with the aim of having a product in place by the mid-2020s.

The first sea lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, said in a security conference speech in 2015 that said he hoped the Royal Navy would have developed a ship-mounted laser cannon by 2020.

The contract is intended to develop lasers for use by all the armed services. The tests will see whether a laser can disrupt and eventually destroy drones, missiles and other targets. The intention is to have lasers operational by the army and navy by the mid-2020s and by the air force by the mid-2030s.

Laser weapons have long captured the public imagination because of the James Bond and science-fiction connotations. Until a few years ago various experiments had all ended in failure, but the US military made a breakthrough in 2014 when a laser mounted on a warship was successfully used to hit a series of targets, including some mounted on a small boat. It also knocked a drone out of the sky.

The MoD contract will see whether a laser can pick up and track targets at various ranges and in various weather conditions over land and water. The successful bidders are also being asked to assess the “dwell time” – how long a laser can stay in contact with a target – and how much power would be required for the lasers.

The contract went to the UK Dragonfire consortium, led by MBDA, to develop “a laser-directed energy weapon”. The target date for demonstrating a laser system was 2019.

Harriet Baldwin, a minister for defence procurement, said: “The UK has long enjoyed a reputation as a world leader in innovation and it is truly ground-breaking projects like the laser-directed energy weapon (LDEW) which will keep this country ahead of the curve.”

Peter Cooper, the LDEW technical lead at the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, said: “This is a significant demonstration programme aimed at maturing our understanding of what is still an immature technology. It draws on innovative research into high-power lasers so as to understand the potential of the technology to provide a more effective response to the emerging threats that could be faced by UK armed forces.”

As well as MBDA, the consortium includes QinetiQ, Leonardo-Finmeccanica GKN, Arke, BAE Systems and Marshall ADG.



Etiam at libero iaculis, mollis justo non, blandit augue. Vestibulum sit amet sodales est, a lacinia ex. Suspendisse vel enim sagittis, volutpat sem eget, condimentum sem.