A significant breakthrough in military technology has taken place as the UK recently tested a high-powered laser weapon successfully against aerial targets. Without any doubt, this new achievement holds great potential for transforming the nature of warfare.
DragonFire: A Powerful Laser Weapon System
Sponsored by a massive investment of 100 million pounds sterling, the ‘DragonFire' program is being executed by MBDA UK, Leonardo UK, and QinetiQ. The Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is managing this ambitious project. Complete details about the DragonFire are confidential, although it's known to possess the capability to accurately hit small objects, equivalent to the size of a pound coin, from a kilometer away. Not only does it boast of its high precision, but it also impressively keeps its running cost generally less than 10 pounds sterling per shot.
Successful Test Against Aerial Targets
On 19 January, the DragonFire system demonstrating its power of 50 kW, successfully shot down drones from several kilometers away. The testing took place in the Hebrides islands, marking the first victorious shoot of this system.
Changing the Face of Warfare
Defense Minister Grant Shapps has expressed that this advanced weapon could revolutionize warfare. The potential benefits include reducing dependence on expensive ammunition and lowering the risk of collateral damage. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) also lauded this as a major step for the technology. The British Army and Royal Navy are considering incorporating it into their future air defense capabilities, with the possibility of installation on Wolfhound armored vehicles and Type 23 frigates.
Global Pursuit of Directed Energy Weapons
The UK is not alone in its pursuit of directed energy weapons. The United States have developed the Directed Energy Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD), Phantom Laser, and High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-Dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS). Israel has the Iron Beam, France has Helma-P, Germany has the LWD (laser weapon demonstrator by Rheinmetall), Russia is equipped with Peresvet and China is working on technology that could “revolutionize” air defense.