The new facility, named Dragonworks, will serve as a test bed for all technologies associated with high-energy lasers for military or commercial applications say Qinetiq.
The defence company say that the facility includes a clean-room to enable work with sensitive optical equipment to be conducted away from contaminants, and the UK’s only Reflective Hazard Assessment Tool (RHAT), designed to examine how laser energy is reflected from different surfaces. Further additions to the building over the coming months will create an environment in which customers can conduct full-scale testing of high-energy lasers, they add.
Steve Wadey, QinetiQ CEO, said:
“Dragonworks introduces a brand new sovereign capability, which will significantly enhance the UK’s ability to operate and characterise high energy lasers. It will help our customers to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with this disruptive technology, informing their critical strategic and tactical decisions.
We are investing in this asset as part of our strategy to modernise the UK’s test and evaluation services, which will ensure our customers can keep pace with rapid technological advances and maintain their competitive edge.”
The first project to be undertaken at Dragonworks will be the assembly and testing of the laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) currently in development by the UK’s Dragonfire consortium, led by MBDA.
Peter Cooper, the Project Technical Authority in Dstl, which manages the Dragonfire contract on behalf of the UK MOD, said:
“This facility is a key step in delivering the Dragonfire project and reflects the continuing UK MOD investment, supported and enabled by industry funding, amounting to tens of millions of pounds in UK industrial skills and capabilities and underpinning UK prosperity.”