Engineers from the UK’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have introduced a high-powered, long-range laser capable of shooting down swarms of drones and other aerial threats from more than three kilometers away.
According to representatives of the UK Ministry of Defense, this weapon dubbed DragonFire can fire laser-directed energy beams of 50 kW or more, and is more effective and infinitely cheaper than conventional military counterparts such as rockets and ballistic missiles.
“Militaries around the world are looking for solutions that can be deployed quickly and at lower cost per attack, and laser weapons have proven to be the most effective approach so far. Not only can these weapons be fired quickly and accurately, but they also don’t require the hassle of stockpiling and supplying ammunition,” explained DSTL engineer Ben Maddison in a press release.
The DragonFire project is running in parallel with the British Ministry of Defense’s Novel Weapons Programme to develop laser and radio-frequency weapons that can be used on the battlefield, particularly against threats such as drones and autonomous unmanned aircraft.
The first tests with the long-range laser were conducted in the Porton Down area of northeastern England. During the experiment, the directed energy beams were able to hit a moving target 3.4 kilometers away. However, the total range of the DragonFire system was not revealed by the military.
“DragonFire has already successfully demonstrated the ability to track targets with very high levels of accuracy and maintain a laser beam at the selected aiming point. This result puts the UK at the forefront of this type of anti-air defense technology worldwide,” Maddison said.
To develop the DragonFire system, the UK Ministry of Defense has invested approximately US$115 million. Some of this money came from industrial partners that specialize in the manufacture of war weapons.
According to those responsible for the project, this technology can serve as the basis for the development of new long-range weapons, leveraging the first generation of combat devices made exclusively with laser-directed energy systems.
“The combination of laser beams offers a system that can achieve improved power density and longer range, and is scalable for future uses. The results of these early tests have been impressive and we look forward to the next stages of the project,” Ben Maddison concluded.
*** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI team ***