Navy Warship Set for Laser Weaponry

The DragonFire laser fires high-intensity beams which meet targets at the speed of light, and is set be installed on a Royal Navy warship in 2027 By William Mackenzie / 17 Apr 2024
Navy Warship Set For Laser Weaponry
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The Royal Navy has brought forward plans to implement the DragonFire laser system on a warship, under new procurement rules which have been introduced.

Set for a 2027 delivery, a burst of the high-intensity beam from DragonFire costs no more than £10. By concentrating light on a target, the laser can engage targets such as drones, missiles, and aircraft at the speed of light. 

The laser has been under development for nearly a decade, and underwent tests by government scientists on the Ministry of Defence’s ranges in the Hebrides at the start of 2024. 

DragonFire has been developed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), on behalf of the UK MOD, working with its industry partners MBDA, Leonardo, and QinetiQ. 

The Royal Navy assert that the DragonFire laser will add to its potent array of air defense weaponry, which includes the Sea Viper and Sea Ceptor missile systems which have recently operated in the Red Sea. 

These current missile systems will continue to be a core component of the Royal Navy’s air defense capability, with Sea Viper receiving further investments to defeat ever-evolving threats.

Captain Matt Ryder, responsible for new capabilities as Head of Above Water Battlespace in the Royal Navy’s Develop Directorate, stated; “The Royal Navy has always been on the front foot to embrace new technologies to enhance our capability. We recognise this cutting-edge UK laser weapons technology as highly relevant and the need to accelerate it into service on board our ships at the earliest opportunity.

“Clearly a current operational focus is on protecting Freedom of Navigation in the Southern Red Sea as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, where in recent months HMS Diamond and HMS Richmond have each successfully deployed Air Defence capabilities to defend legitimate shipping in the area against drone and missile threats.

“Noting the quantity and varied sophistication of air and missile threats seen in the Southern Red Sea, we see a very relevant and current example of where laser weapons could provide an additional layer of defence to protect shipping, at a potentially much lower cost per shot and without the inherent onboard magazine and silo capacity constraints associated with interceptor missiles.”

Dstl’s Chief Executive Paul Hollinshead, commented; “This is excellent news, and a real step forward in enabling operational advantage at pace for UK Defence. Dstl is all about preparing for the future and the DragonFire technology is a great example of that. Our scientists along with industry partners have worked tirelessly to bring laser technology to where it is today, one which I am proud to say is a UK sovereign capability.”

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, added; “In a more dangerous world, our approach to procurement is shifting with it. We need to be more urgent, more critical and more global. 

“Our widespread reforms will deliver the latest kit and weaponry for our Armed Forces faster and help identify export opportunities that can boost the UK economy. DragonFire shows the best of the UK at the forefront of military technology, and we will not delay in getting it in the hands of our military to face down the threats we’re facing.”

Posted by William Mackenzie Connect & Contact