Dragonfire, a British Laser Directed Energy Program, (LDEW), was launched by MBDA missile systems manufacturer. It has successfully conducted a series tests to determine the power and accuracy of new laser weapons. This joint project is a collaboration between the UK Ministry of Industry and Defense (MBDA), Leonardo, QinetiQ and Dstl.
These low-power tests showed that the system was capable of tracking targets on both land and water with exceptional accuracy. This proved to be a catalyst for the next phase, which will see the British industry test a high-powered static laser while still maintaining accurate aiming. Combining the results from these two tests will allow us to test a more powerful laser and track accuracy. We can then hit targets in real-world scenarios.
These tests are a crucial step towards the development of sovereign directional lasers. This test is the culmination a lot of hardwork from both the industry as well as DSTL teams. It was difficult to overcome COVID disruptions and the technical challenges that Dragonfire’s unique innovations presented. These tests will be able to determine the limits of what is physically possible with laser weapons.
Chris Allam, Managing director, MBDA UK
LDEW’s main purpose is to safely focus and control high laser power at great distances. This tracking test proved how well the components of Dragonfire’s tracking system interacted. The tracking test was performed using a low-power QinetiQ laser, a Leonardo beam aiminger, and MBDA imaging processing and management technology. This allowed for the tracking and pointing accuracy required to inflict any damage with a high-power laser.
Other subsystems such as the C2, Effector Management System (EMS), and “coarse tracking – which directs the laser at the target – were also tested during these tests.