The Ministry of Defence has announced the rollout of laser weapons systems far quicker than expected, following defence procurement reforms, with DragonFire to be on Royal Navy warships from 2027.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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George Amery
George Amery (@guest_809789)
1 month ago

Hi folks hope all is well.
This is good news, I gather the issue about ship stability may be overcome to be able to fire at the target.
This on top of the announcement from Starmer an increase in defence spending to a miserable 2.5 percent of GDP when possible? No change from current government then. I personally would like to see c3 percent GDP to bring up to scratch current defence requirements. It’s amazing how we can speed up development with a threat at our door; 2032 now 2027 for Dragon Fire for implementation on ships, good!
Cheers
George

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon (@guest_809794)
1 month ago
Reply to  George Amery

Directed Energy Warfare rapidly assuming centre stage at many frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum, evidently. Alongside formidable power consumption requirements in the case of US SEWIP Block II & now Block III dominating superstructure on the Arleigh Burkes.

Henry Lamb
Henry Lamb (@guest_809791)
1 month ago

Pleased to see this even if 50kw is lesser to what the US are currently testing. Looks promising all the same.

Still, can we speed up delivery of the FCASW as well? 😂

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_809863)
1 month ago
Reply to  Henry Lamb

The US started with this size laser but some years back so we are earlier in the trials process but also has to be taken into consideration other aspects not all lasers of the same power output are equal it’s also what you can achieve within that power range which it seems DragonFire is exceptional at. I also read that the US are working on a range of systems and one such as recently as a few years back was working with lasers of this power range. That said when all things are equal, size and power does matter thereafter… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_809931)
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

You hit the nail on the head. Dragonfire had to solve two critical issues. Firstly tracking a maneuvering target, whilst keeping the laser spot on a targeted area. Secondly being able to maintain the spot size on the target whilst it is maneuvering. Ramping up the power and therefore the spot intensity is the easy bit. After all this a “fibre laser”. Where in a similar fashion to how AESA radars work by using constructive interference. By merging the 37 individual lasers, you can modulate the overall laser’s output power and therefore the spot intensity. So in essence you could… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_809978)
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Interesting to see it working on a warship manoeuvring hard in an Atlantic sell against a defensively moving airborne target…

I would hope dragonfire will be mounted, either side on T45’s mast. I would assume as much height as possible.

They need mounting the same way on the Carriers in my opinion.

Quill
Quill (@guest_810547)
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

The Aiming module shouldn’t be too heavy, especially with the fact that the actual laser module can be a distance away from the aiming module.

At least that and maybe getting the Sampson radar upgraded or replaced as an early technology for Type 83, would be a good capability gap coverage and maturing the technologies for the type 83s.

Of course the bean counters will likely have different opinions.

Armchair Admiral
Armchair Admiral (@guest_809792)
1 month ago

Pew pew! Wow. What a turn up for the books! Realistically what ships would be fitted with this capability? Obv T45, T26 and T31, but in addition,? Is there room and gen capacity on a T23? Carriers would be a welcome fit. Stores ships? B2 opv…..
AA

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_809865)
1 month ago

Wasn’t there supposed to have been a test regime of some laser platform this year on a T-23 which was cancelled. It seems for once that cancellation might have actually been a positive rather than negative sign.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_809800)
1 month ago

Well I’m just glad we are building ships with lots of modern Generating capacity. QE, T26 and T45 should all be fine. Not too sure about the T31 and as for the T23 I’d doubt it. There are very good reasons that RR MT30 GTs are a real U.K. export success Italy, USN, Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada and the next one will probably be India. Says it all when the US picked them to power the US Zumwalt class. I’ll be intrigued to see what they do with QE class if they fit lasers and EMALS, a very big PIP… Read more »

Expat
Expat (@guest_809866)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I think the T31 has 4 RR/MTU power plants. It can run on 2 but needs 4 to sprint, so may be it can either fight or run but not both 😀.

But in reality if you have any spare power you can charge capacitors or batteries less power just means eithe lower fire rate or more time between recharges.

However I’d like to see Dragonfire as modular weapon so its fitted depending on the role and if needed could be deployed ashore. So a containerised power system should be part of the overall system options.

Graham M
Graham M (@guest_810002)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

EMALS – to launch large/heavy drones?

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_809801)
1 month ago

The BBC are reporting Shapps wants to send it to Ukraine for live testing ? What is he on ? He’s actually talking some sense, I’m just not sure if they have enough Electricity.🤔

Last edited 1 month ago by ABCRodney
Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_809841)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I hope the 🇬🇧 can get some export sales with this dew technology. Hope there’s no risk of it into falling into Russia’s hands and I do wonder why Shapps even needed mention to this. Why tell Russia and your potential adversaries all these things up front? Gone is any element of surprise!
As others mentioned, it’d be good if the two carriers will get these or at least some enhanced self defence armaments.
And any possible laser type pods available for the Typhoon’s and F35Bs? Okay, ssssssh, don’t need to tell anyone too much. 🤫 Lol 😁

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_809873)
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I think it will be a positive announcing this it will be under UK control and likely start by operating in the West or South of Ukraine near an Odessa. However I would be surprised if it happened any time soon it will need to be ruggedised I suspect so why not use it as a pr move. Despite often poor long term planning, support, financing and development systematic problems far too often, one thing however Britain is great at is getting things done when faced with a serious threat, something we have retained since WW2, so maybe they will… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_809867)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Will generate its own electricity supply.

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN (@guest_809958)
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

To be fair you could strap it straight into their power stations and call it humanitarian assistance.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg (@guest_809807)
1 month ago

Finally some sensible and good news.

DeeBee
DeeBee (@guest_809808)
1 month ago

A couple of those MK110 57mm guns wouldn’t go amiss either, those proximity fused airburst rounds would make light work of any swarm drone attacks.

Farouk
Farouk (@guest_809809)
1 month ago

The BBC is currently reporting this: DragonFire: UK laser could be used against Russian drones on Ukraine front line A UK high-power laser weapon could be sent to Ukraine to take down Russian drones, the defence secretary says.According to Grant Shapps, the weapon could have “huge ramifications” for the conflict in Europe. The DragonFire weapon is expected to be rolled out by 2027, but Mr Shapps said he wanted to “speed up” production and make it available sooner. It follows a successful trial of the laser, carried out against an aerial target for the first time in January. The laser… Read more »

Grinch
Grinch (@guest_809829)
1 month ago

Sounds like the reforms add another level or two of reviews and committees. Faster? No chance.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_809954)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grinch

Certainly feels like things that would either not have been bothered to be done (faster T26 and Dragonfire) now have an extra boost. Not clear about what exactly they are doing but the system works.

Grinch
Grinch (@guest_809831)
1 month ago

Shapps making promises about lasers that he will be very unlikely in the position to deliver. In other words, political fluff.

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_809834)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grinch

or he could of course just say nothing….and you could then highlight that instead.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_809875)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Ouch!

Yes
Yes (@guest_809901)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grinch

They should better send it to Russia straight away to save moneys

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_809948)
1 month ago
Reply to  Yes

Reading between the lines, it may very well end up in Ukraine sooner than you think.

Lord Baddlesmere
Lord Baddlesmere (@guest_810048)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grinch

Shapp’s has never chalked up any major achievements in any ministerial role to date. Why will defence be different?
Or is Michael Green or one of his other three aliases taking up the task?
I fail to see what if any gravitas or effective delivery skills this individual has?
He seems entirely unfit for any ministerial role

Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_809837)
1 month ago

Regardless of timelines and proven function, this is a statement of belligerence from H.M.G. Good.

Last edited 1 month ago by Barry Larking
ChariotRider
ChariotRider (@guest_809853)
1 month ago

This sounds like spiral development. Bring a basic 70% effective system into service and then develop it in light of operational results… Smacks of how they operated during WW2..! As for Grant Shapps’ suggestion that it could go to Ukraine we’ll see. Firstly, there appears to be an awful lot of optimism around Dragonfire after the most recent tests. Not knowing the details of the test program I cannot comment in detail, but given they are suggesting another 3 years before it will get onto RN ships even in a 70% effective format I would suggest they still have work… Read more »

Expat
Expat (@guest_809870)
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I would hope power pack is one of the weapon options. I think RR already have a ready to go PP they built for the US.

Quick web search ‘Rolls-Royce has successfully demonstrated ‘deep magazine’ power capability for directed energy applications’

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_809959)
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

From my understanding Dragonfire uses both. Dragonfire I believe has two laser systems. The first is like a ranging laser. Which is used to track the target. I think this could be a CW laser, as it doesn’t need high power. The second laser is the main laser. This is a fibre laser, where 37 individual lasers are merged together to form a single laser beam of around 55kW. As you may be aware, CW lasers are very good at continuously cutting through steel sheets for example. Where the head distance is measured in millimeters. However, they aren’t all that… Read more »

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_810066)
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Does Dragonfire being a fibre laser as you say mean that the turret can be in a different place from the laser source?
It seems to me that having the turret as high up and exposed as possible would be very useful but you really don’t want the container that Dragonfire needs as the laser source really high up.
If you could use fibre optic cables or something then the source could be down with the other machinery below the water line and the beams taken up with cables to the turret to be fired.

Expat
Expat (@guest_809862)
1 month ago
  • Increased focus on exportability at the start of a new programme, to prioritise developing kit that can be sold to allies globally. 

Finally, the recognition that we need to build defence products that we can sell, something I’ve been adovcating on here for sometime now. Hopefully this thinking will extend beyond the current government.

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_809979)
1 month ago
Reply to  Expat

Common sense mate, common sense.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_809887)
1 month ago

About time too.the wait for the deployment of the system is just in time while the houthi drone attack is going on. This is the perfect environment for the live testing of it in a fairly benign condition the drones are slow medium altitude targets and the system needs to be able to deal with that kind of threat.

Tommo
Tommo (@guest_809977)
1 month ago

Someone has finally woken Those in power up not just Dragonfire but CIWs also needs beefing up as the sea is not a static fixture for just 1 defence weapon our adversaries will undoubtedly not just launch 1 missile or 1 Drone at a time

Tommo
Tommo (@guest_809980)
1 month ago

Just watched it on Forces new interesting

Bill
Bill (@guest_809997)
1 month ago

Still three years away. Thank goodness we are speeding up the fitting!

AHG
AHG (@guest_810056)
1 month ago

I imagine stability will be dealt with using established techniques. There must be some sort of bracketing and limitations but let’s face it most current UAV attacks are made pretty close to shore as opposed to the Atlantic. Everyone loves a laser but would there be a policy for using it on human targets? If so what sort of injuries would it inflict? Are we looking at a “Three body problem” industrial slicer on flesh?

EnglishElectricLightning
EnglishElectricLightning (@guest_810078)
1 month ago

Genuine question. Won’t drones just carry a sub-munition that launches when the drone itself gets engaged by Dragonfire – Dragonfire itself could be targeted by the sub-munition, surely?

Bringer of facts
Bringer of facts (@guest_811085)
1 month ago

Unless Dragonfire targets the sub-munition first … boom !! 2 for one shot

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_810097)
1 month ago

Off topic, Naval Recognition is reporting MBDA is looking at doubling the range of Aster 15 (currently 30km?) with an 15EC interaction. Wonder if this is/was a possible option for the T45 upgrades instead of going for CAMM? Though only one per silo. Sorry to bring it up but just imagine the carriers with Aster and Samson, the former as on the French and Italian carriers. 😆

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_810098)
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

And buy some additional new Aster 30 for the T45s.