The development of the United Kingdom’s DragonFire laser-directed energy weapon advanced another step with the prototype’s first high-power firing against aerial targets completed at the Ministry of Defence’s Hebrides Range in Scotland.
The U.K. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory with the DragonFire partners, composed of MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ, conducted the trial following earlier tests that demonstrated the system’s long-range capability to track mobile air and sea targets.
Dstl originally awarded MBDA a contract in early 2017 to demonstrate LDEW capability, aiming to have the U.K. army and navy use the weapon by the mid-2020s and the air force by the mid-2030s.
The U.K. MOD and the LDEW partners have pooled $$127 million investment in the project, which supports British job creation in advanced technologies, QinetiQ said in its announcement of the laser-firing test. The project combines its partners’ long industry experience in weapon system manufacturing for land and sea forces, the company added.
MOD data shows DragonFire can hit a GBP 1 coin target a kilometer away, according to a BBC report on the test.
U.K. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps noted that the laser weapon could reduce the British military’s reliance on costly ammunition and lower collateral damage risk.