The MOD has awarded a £30M contract for a Laser Directed Energy Weapon capability demonstrator to UK Dragonfire consortium.
Led by MBDA, the consortium will test and assess innovative technologies in order to develop and demonstrate the system in 2019. Comprising partners from across the UK, the Dragonfire consortium includes MDBA, QinetiQ, Leonardo-Finmeccanica GKN, Arke, BAE Systems and Marshall ADG.
Theses companies will work together to help shape the Dstl’s approach to creating an in-service capability. The contract requests assessment of the system to see how well it can pick up and track targets over various distances, in varied weather conditions and over both land and water.
Following successful tests on demonstration, it is anticipated that the first laser weapons would be seen by the mid 2020s.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriet Baldwin 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 which will keep this country ahead of the curve.
“The Defence Innovation Initiative and £800M Defence Innovation Fund aim to encourage imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, in pursuit of maintaining a military advantage in the future.
“With a rising Defence budget, and a £178 billion equipment plan, our commitment to innovation will deliver a safer and more prosperous Britain.”
Dstl’s Peter Cooper added: “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.”
The awarding of this contract demonstrates the MODs commitment to investing in new innovative solutions and technologies, supported by the Government’s £178Bn equipment plan. While the Innovation Initiative and aims to develop partnerships with companies at the cutting edge of technology.
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