The Ministry of Defence has awarded three contracts worth £72.5 million to UK industry partners to develop and produce demonstrators as part of the its Novel weapons programme.
Known collectively as Directed Energy Weapons (DEW), these next-generation technologies could revolutionise the battlefield and help to reduce the risk of collateral damage.
“Powered by electricity they operate without ammunition. This reduces operating costs whilst increasing platform endurance and providing unprecedented offensive and defensive flexibility to soldiers on the frontline. The three contracts will deliver two laser DEW demonstrators and one radio frequency DEW demonstrator.
Two of the demonstrators will be delivered to the Army. The chosen platform for the laser DEW that will detect and counter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as well as land-based targets, will be Army’s Wolfhound, a six-wheeled variant of the acclaimed Mastiff.”
A news release states:
“The radio frequency demonstrator will also be hosted on a MAN SV truck and will enable to detection and tracking a variety of air and land targets before disrupting or damaging them using electromagnetic energy. These innovative capabilities will undergo user experimentation from 2023 to 2025. This will focus on operation and maintenance and will provide invaluable knowledge, information and experience to assess whether DEW can be fully embedded on other Defence assets in the future.”
These weapons systems, which are being developed by a consortia led by Thales UK, “further reinforces the commitment by us and the Ministry of Defence to develop novel technologies”, say the MoD.
“This marks a significant step towards the use of DEWs to enhance the capability of future soldiers and ensure that they will continue to have the best equipment available.”
We also reported yesterday that the Ministry of Defence have announced that Thales will develop and fit a directed energy weapon to a Type 23 frigate in order to test the system at sea.