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The UK Armed Forces are closer than ever to having a powerful laser weapon that can hit targets with both high accuracy and low cost- the DragonFire laser-directed energy weapon (LDEW). The system has recently performed a successful fire test and hit aerial targets for the first time.
According to Interesting Engineering, the DragonFire is a line-of-sight system with a classified range and an operating cost of less than $13 per shot, which is significantly cheaper than conventional missiles.
The system also offers “pinpoint accuracy” that could let the user target enemies more precisely than other weapons while reducing the need for expensive ammunition. It can also cut through targets at the speed of light, causing structural damage or detonating warheads.
Defense Secretary Grant Shapp praised the project, saying: “This type of cutting-edge weaponry has the potential to revolutionize the battlespace by reducing the reliance on expensive ammunition while also lowering the risk of collateral damage. Investments with industry partners in advanced technologies like DragonFire are crucial in a highly contested world, helping us maintain the battle-winning edge and keep the nation safe.”
Other significant milestones of the project include the first static high-power laser firing of a UK capability and the demonstration of the system’s ability to track moving targets on land and sea with high accuracy.
Meanwhile, on the US front, the Navy and Lockheed Martin have partnered to install a High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) on the guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88), which is expected to provide the Navy with a scalable laser weapon capability to counter surface and air threats.