The British Ministry of Defence has announced that its military is a step closer to fielding its first-ever 50-kilowatt laser weapon.
The announcement comes as the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) wrapped up the maiden long-range trial of its DragonFire high-energy laser.
During the live-fire test, the system successfully neutralized a small drone positioned two miles (3.2 kilometers) away using its solid-state, transparent laser.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the test improved the country’s understanding of how high-energy lasers and their associated technologies can operate over distance and defeat representative targets.
“The ability to deliver high levels of laser power with sufficient accuracy are two of the major areas that need to be demonstrated in order to provide confidence in the performance and viability of [laser] systems,” it stated.
At the ‘Forefront’ of the Laser Domain
Ben Maddison from the DSTL said that the recently-concluded trial marked the culmination of years of design, development, and demonstration of the laser weapon.
He further stated that the DragonFire had already demonstrated its ability to track targets, and that the latest live-fire test was just meant to assess the performance of the laser itself.
“The outcome shows that the UK has world-leading capability in the technologies associated with laser directed energy weapons systems,” Maddison explained.
Meanwhile, MBDA managing director Chris Allam explained that the successful trial was the last step in accelerating the delivery of sophisticated laser weapons to the British military.
He also noted that MBDA, Leonardo, QinetiQ, and the DSTL continue working to put the country at the forefront of research and technology in the laser domain.
“The results from these trials have verified analysis and given the team confidence that DragonFire will offer a near term and unique capability,” Allam remarked.