During a trial at the MOD’s Hebrides Range, the DragonFire laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) system achieved the UK’s first high-power firing of a laser weapon against aerial targets.

The range of DragonFire is classified, but it is a line-of-sight weapon and can engage with any visible target.

  • First high-power firing of a laser weapon against aerial targets
  • Laser boasts pinpoint accuracy and low long-term costs

“DragonFire exploits UK technology to be able to deliver a high power laser over long ranges. The precision required is equivalent to hitting a £1 coin from a kilometre away. Laser-directed energy weapons can engage targets at the speed of light, and use an intense beam of light to cut through the target, leading to structural failure or more impactful results if the warhead is targeted.

Firing it for 10 seconds is the cost equivalent of using a regular heater for just an hour. Therefore, it has the potential to be a long-term low-cost alternative to certain tasks missiles currently carry out. The cost of operating the laser is typically less than £10 per shot.”

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

This milestone demonstrated the ability to engage aerial targets at relevant ranges and is a major step in bringing this technology into service. Both the Army and Royal Navy are considering using this technology as part of their future Air Defence capabilities.

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapp said:

“This type of cutting-edge weaponry has the potential to revolutionise 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.”

The Ministry of Defence say that the latest milestone builds on a series of highly successful trials, including the first static high-power laser firing of a sovereign UK capability and demonstration of the DragonFire system’s ability to track moving air and sea targets with very high accuracy at range.

“Building on this research, the MOD recently announced its intention to fund a multi-million-pound programme to transition the technology from the research environment to the battlefield. The latest trial was sponsored by the MOD’s Defence Science and Technology (DST) organisation and Strategic Programmes and enabled by many other agencies across government, ensuring all regulatory and safety approval requirements were satisfied.”

Dstl’s Chief Executive, Dr Paul Hollinshead said:

“These trials have seen us take a huge step forward in realising the potential opportunities and understanding the threats posed by directed energy weapons. With our decades of knowledge, skills, and operational experience, Dstl’s expertise is critical to helping the armed forces prepare for the future.”

The MOD added:

“The DragonFire weapon system is the result of a £100 million joint investment by the Ministry of Defence and industry. Together, the companies involved are supporting highly-skilled UK jobs in new cutting-edge technologies that are delivering a significant step-change in the UK’s capability in LDEW systems. In 2017 the MOD’s Chief Scientific Advisor’s Research Programme awarded a £30 million contract to the DragonFire consortium to demonstrate the potential of LDEWs.”

Dr Nick Joad, DST said:

“This is a really innovative application of science and engineering and is the fruit of sustained investment and effort. DragonFire uses cutting-edge science and technology and delivers much greater performance than other systems of a similar class. DragonFire provides a step-change in our ability to deal with high-performance and low-cost threats.”

UK defence is continuing to invest in these game-changing technologies and is advancing the plans which will ultimately bring them into service.

Shimon Fhima, Director Strategic Programmes for the MOD said:

“The DragonFire trials at the Hebrides demonstrated that our world-leading technology can track and engage high-end effects at range. In a world of evolving threats we know that our focus must be on getting capability to the warfighter and we will look to accelerate this next phase of activity.”

Avatar photo
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
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

163 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago

We might need it sooner rather than later. Hopefully, someone will wake up and smell the coffee. Friday 19 January 2024 09:21, UK Ukraine war latest: Western civilians urged to prepare for ‘all-out war’ with Russia “A leading NATO official has said civilians as well as armed forces in the West need to be prepared for the outbreak of a war with Russia that would demand significant changes to their lives. Admiral Bauer said: “We have to realise it’s not a given that we are in peace. And that’s why we [NATO forces] are preparing for a conflict with Russia.”… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Collins
Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Absolutely NC. It seems the whole World is going to hell in a handcart.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

So true and we keep selling or scrapping the Wheels

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

always have done.

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  andy reeves

my missus is out buying all the toilet rolls in the town, but i don’t think our bunker under the potting shed will be big enough.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Yes, I read this as well. I wonder what’s in the minds of the NATO top brass though. Are they after budget increases and/or trying to wake their political masters up? War with Russia? It would take a mind boggling effort for Russia to take on Europe even now, never mind when the likes of Poland have rearmed. Makes the Ukraine all the more important though.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Hopefully, wake up and smell the coffee. We need to look at what land-based systems we have in place to defend and deter against an attack from a foreign power and at range. Tomahawk V Typhon land-based mobile launcher. Additional ASTER 30 Block 1 and 2 when it becomes available. Additional land-based mobile launchers. Dragonfire Additional Typhoons MATRE ER JSM It’s been reported many times in the past and more recently that the UK relies too heavily on our alliance with NATO and the fact that the US will come to Europe’s aid should war break out. The world right… Read more »

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The Defence Secretary pointed out in his recent Lancaster House speech that almost the entirety of our forces are committed to NATO. As you imply, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Agreed Jon.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It appears SPEAR 3 might also be delayed on Typhoon as well as the F-35. “Technical issues are preventing the UK from meeting its original timeline to test-fire the MBDA SPEAR 3 weapon set for entry into service on F-35B fighter jets. The UK MoD has revealed that the first firing test of MBDA’s Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 (SPEAR 3) air-to-surface weapon from an RAF Eurofighter Typhoon will not take place as planned this year, but instead go ahead in 2023. ‘The first guided firing is now scheduled for 2023 due to technical considerations and programme complexity,’… Read more »

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

” go ahead in 2023″- when was that article published?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  grizzler

Well I guess many in Govt are still living in the past when it comes to defence.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Some positive news. January 17, 2024 @Breaking Defence “With a first flight planned for this year, manufacturers BAE Systems and Leonardo said the advanced radar will be “able to locate and deny use of an adversary’s radar with a powerful electronic jamming attack, whilst staying beyond the reach of threats.” BELFAST — BAE Systems and Leonardo UK have fitted an advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar to a Eurofighter Typhoon fourth generation fighter jet for the first time, in preparation for maiden flight of the system later this year. The ECRS Mk 2 radar program falls under a wider… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

£2.34Bn for 107 jets of which only 40 will receive the new radar. Makes F35 Blk4 look like a bargin.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Is there any likelihood the rest of the Typhoons can get the radar upgrade or is set at 40? Seems a bit short righted even self defeating as its not even half the fleet. More will cost more but you’d think costs per plane might come down? If they stop with 40 here I think it’ll count out any additional new build Typhoon for the RAF.

Last edited 1 month ago by Quentin D63
Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Yes. T2 and T3 can take the new radar. But so far, only the T3 aircraft are funded to receive it. With the radar not due in service past 2030. I doubt T2 jets will receive it. As more attention and funds will have move to F35 and Tempest post 2030.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Thanks Robert. 2030 still seems such a long way away.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
30 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

It does. Considering F35 will be on its 2nd AESA radar by then. The APG-85.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I wonder how much the new engines will cost per unit and when we will have them installed? 13 Dec 2023 “Ultimately, Block 4 addresses new threats to the aircraft since the DoD’s original requirements more than two decades ago. These Block 4 capabilities require more power and cooling than anticipated, which has prompted the DoD to modernise the overworked F135 engine. As a result of new demands in a different technological era, the DoD has added extra capabilities nearly every year since Block 4 began – leading to the aircraft’s capabilities growing from 66 to 80.” 2 Aug 2023… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Big numbers. For a large number of aircraft.

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

i’m waiting for charlie mark 3 to announce he will review the fleet! i’d pay to see the sheer panic at the MOD!!

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

the boer war times.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  grizzler

21 Jun 2022

Marked
Marked
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Errmmmm 2023 was last year

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Marked

The first test firing was rescheduled for 2023 due to technical considerations.

Did it take place, how many more will be required and when will it enter service with the RAF is my point regarding Typhoon.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Currently. Funding isn’t available to put SPEAR3 into service on the RAF Typhoon. The testing and firings are to de-risk integration on the F35B.

Jonno
Jonno
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Obvious that Ukraine gets tacs.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

We won’t be buying more Typhoons when we are spending £2.35 billion upgrading the one’s we have. And we won’t be buying Matre ER when we are buying SPEAR 3.

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

👍

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion X

No official decisions have been made re Typhoon or MARTE ER. Spear 3 will not be happening until the end of this decade.

We need an interim solution.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

That top bit answers my question to you.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Is there any official confirmation of this?

Wasp snorter
Wasp snorter
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Missile attack on Britain is possible and the threat of global nuclear war is always alarming but no one will be landing troops on this soil to invade it, whether China has 400 ships or 4000.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
1 month ago
Reply to  Wasp snorter

They wouldn’t have to. This is not 1940. They get to the Channel coast and we’re finished. Nothing moves by air or sea. The economy would be finished in a matter of weeks.

Wasp snorter
Wasp snorter
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Ok to be clear, no one is invading Europe to the extent that France and Belgium and Holland are occupied either, who exactly are getting to the channel coast? you say ‘this is not like 1940’ but the scenario you have painted is flipping exactly like 1940. My point is that it isn’t, no one will invade us or France and take us over. The problem may be rogue missiles or even a full missile strike, maybe.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Wouldn’t even need to get that close I reckon Europe lives or dies united, someone said today it’s ridiculous how Europe has failed to unite to form serious collective defence and now that the US is becoming a head case in its own right we need to take every opportunity while Russia is tied up in Ukraine to do so in case US support wavers. One irony in that is how the hell would the US commitment to Israel which is causing so much animosity towards Western structures, actually work if Europe became disconnected from the US under Russian hegemony… Read more »

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

after what the ukranians have done to the russian military machine they won’t get anywhere near the channel.

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

our mighty archers will protect us.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

IF they were alone, yes.

Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

I think the cold reality of how long it takes to rebuild the forces we’ve allowed to wither. Realistically, we’re not looking at having the platforms, personnel and munitions stockpiled before ~2035 if we start beefing those things up now. That’s about when Russia might also be ready for a dust up with the rest of Europe. And if we ignore the NATO generals, then Russia will still be ready and looking for a fight, and we won’t.

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

if we wanted to rebuild the nations forces in a hurry wer’re totally fu***d theres nowhere that can deliver anything good enough or quickly enough to make a diffeence.

Joe16
Joe16
27 days ago
Reply to  andy reeves

Quite- our best bet is to funnel more funds into stuff we’ve already got contracts for, to boost our inventory. Nothing we have is bad- we just need more of it!

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

We do seem to be at some kind of turning point. Germany is weaker. Finland and Sweden have joined NATO; you might say historical 17c Scandinavia is back. Norway is strong. Watching the coronation on TV I got the sense that Denmark’s star is rising. Poland is gaining economic and military strength.. Erdogen has visions of a new Ottoman empire. The tensions in the UK are pulling England and Scotland back to a pre-union relationship. Russia has failed to conquer Ukraine. Lavrov said this week that Ukrainians have to get used to being part of Russia ( 18c empire). I… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

It’s most definitely not looking good at present including what’s taking place in the middle east. Did I forget to mention Russia and China’s joint military Naval exercises? You don’t look to build 400+ ships by 2030 just for a regional conflict. “North Korea’s foreign minister has returned home after making a rare official visit to Russia, according to state media. Choe Son Hui arrived back with a government delegation on Friday, the news agency KCNA added. Earlier this week, she was photographed meeting Vladimir Putin. Ms Choe’s visit to Moscow is the latest in a series of high-level exchanges. She met… Read more »

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

i get the idea that china is not overly impressed by the russians or that they would be of a real use as allies. china by itself is, for me the main menace to peace. they don’t do reckless rhetoric, they keep their cards to their chest if they were to go for tiawan, it would be at very short notice.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Russian mothers can’t bring down Putin like they did in the 80’s. People in the Gorbachev government actually cared. No one in Putins regime gives a f**k what the public thinks or who has to die.

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Jim

i’m surprised that the kremlin has not turned on putin. i expected that the usual ‘purge’ or revenge would have happened. and putin would be a lump of earth in the forest somewhere.when those wagner rebels turned around and didn’t. carry on to moscow, the opportunity to get rid of the fool was missed.

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

not a good thing when everyone knows even the russians are suffering mission overstreach. everything they have could be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

By significant changes in civilian life I assume the admiral is expecting people to be combining through the nuclear waste land. What a stupid statement.

A conventional war between NATO and Russia would be over very quickly a nuclear war would be catastrophic.

What are civilians adjusting to?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Or, considering joining our armed forces and increasing our industrial base in the defense sector springs to mind.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Not a good time to be closing down your steel making capacity methinks.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I tend to agree with your comment Spyinthesky and a very good time to invest in homeland defence both long and short. Sweden orders mobile air-defence systems19 January 2024 The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) ordered mobile short-range air defence (MSHORAD) systems from Saab during the fourth quarter of 2023, the agency and company announced on 17 January. Saab valued the contract at SEK300 million (over USD28 million) and said the contract period ranged from 2024 to 2026, while the FMV expected deliveries of two different types of MSHORAD systems, both integrated into the Bv410, the Swedish designation for the… Read more »

Ex-Marine
Ex-Marine
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Absolutely correct @Spyinthesky. The government needs to make a quick decision on British steel plants in Port Talbot and Scunthorpe. Dont give Tata any danegeld as they did a few years ago. Nationalise it when they choose to close it down but before the furnaces are shut down for good. I don’t care what views people have with respect to the politics. In 1917 the Germans got the UK 1within 6 weeks of starvation. In reverse, Germany’s civilians began to suffer malnutrition in the winter of 1916 from the Royal Navy blockade in the North Sea and the French and… Read more »

Last edited 30 days ago by Ex-Marine
Paul.P
Paul.P
27 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Tata using the net zero god to justify screwing Port Talbot. HMG letting them get away with it. We should call Tata’s bluff and tell them no redundancies- think again or we will nationalise. Tail wagging the dog here….

Last edited 27 days ago by Paul.P
Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

He’s saying we may have no choice in whether war starts or not what is the alternative scenario surrender before it starts? Don’t see much else when you analyse Russian intent it has nothing to do with defence.

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Jim

my wfes out 🎇buying oilt rolls for the bunker down the garden.under the potting shed.

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

We can’t have war just yet—HMG needs another decade of cuts to completely finish off our armed forces!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank62

Defeat by stealth! Would you happen to know if Guy Fawkes has any descendants?😆

January 18, 2024 @ Breaking Defence
“A new report from Britain’s RUSI and America’s SCSP argues only tough, politically savvy leadership can force the armed services to scrap enough existing systems to free up funds for an AI-driven revolution in warfare.” 😂

Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Collins
andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

if it works roll it out starting with one of the ships in the red sea where theres a good chance it can be used in a real environment.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

Awesome news! When will it be fitted to a warship? Obviously we need this yesterday….

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

Morning all.
Would be interesting to see if this could be mounted on the top and bottom of a large aircraft. In my mind something like a modern-day B17 where the top and bottom gun turrets were positioned. Would have greater line of sight than a ship, that’s for sure. But it depends on how heavy and sizable the power supply and other supporting elements would be.
This article was a great news piece, well done to all involved. May this success continue and develop into a deployable platform relatively soon!
Cheers
M@

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

While mounting the thing probably wouldn’t be a big issue, having sufficient power generation facilities on board to make it worth the hassle might be

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

Just ban the use of hairdryers Whoops 🤭 but seriously its the Wattsge used the Navy has used Lasers before going all the way back too OP Corporate which drew a lot of AMPS things of progressed now so fitting Dragonfly shouldn’t be a problem Ben

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Not a problem on ships sure! Can’t see us squeezing on onto a B-17 as Matt suggested though.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

Ask Boeing they have doors that open in flight

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

And the last one I remember on an airliner was a 747 many years back. Wasn’t practical back then wonder if it is now, doubtful I reckon certainly in anything other than defence over your own country but who knows within a decade.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Was the 747 USAF or NASA but I do think there was a Documentary on it if my memory serves me right

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

Its being pursued for Tempest, capacitor charged you would be able to get a shot off between every 10-60 seconds depending on output.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

There is an RR project for high electrical output from its new generation of engine cores such that the generating capacity is inside the engine and cooled by the airflows inherent in an engine.

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago

which would – I assume – impact on the engine cooling capability?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  grizzler

Maybe maybe not if they are using the reaction engines tech.

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Hardly prolific then – there a hell a lot of firepower that can be delivered in that time.
I get that you dont have to re-arm but still …and its only line of sight so…

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  grizzler

Line of sight for a laser will be somewhat different to line of sight for a missile mind ie speed of light v a few thousand miles per hour. Range is going to determine its ultimate effectiveness.

Ian
Ian
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

It’s only about 50 kW for a few seconds (i.e. about 200 kW accounting for efficiency losses). Apparently they’re looking at a flywheel for storing the required energy. A bigger engineering challenge is dissipating the excess heat, but at least the sea provides a decent heat-sink.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian

Yes that’s the tech that Williams has created for RR.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian

Agree, sea-based DEW will probably be the first practical deployment of maturing tech. Wonder whether anyone has proposed an AUKUS R&D Pillar 2 initiative for space based systems? ChiComs will prove to be the pacing function.

Julian
Julian
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian

Random piece of flywheel trivia…. My first job back in 1981 was near Oxford and the company I worked for did quite a lot of work for the Joint European Torus project that at the time (and for many years afterwards) was at the cutting edge of fusion power research. I got a tour of the facility and, apart from how sophisticated the robotics were to remotely maintain equipment in the reactor hall, the other thing that stuck with me was seeing the two huge flywheels that they spun up to store enough energy to initiate a test. The instantaneous… Read more »

BenS
BenS
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

Back of fag packet assuming by “regular heater” they mean a 2kW heater, its looking like it needs 720kW of power to fire it. No problem for the likes of T45 with it’s rated 52MW of power (post PIP), but maybe also feasible for the likes of a voyager aircraft variant. I’m not sure if the main engines would be able to provide the power or if a beefy APU would be needed instead.

Last edited 1 month ago by BenS
Farouk
Farouk
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

Ben ,
I do believe that the U.K. miltary has set in motion a policy that all new British Mil equipment (Ships, planes and armour) have the means and ability to power lasers designed to be used on their respective platforms.

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago
Reply to  Farouk

Even the helmets…that’d be cool , just like the Cybermen in Dr Who

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  grizzler

Let’s hope it’s more effective they never win against the Daleks, or indeed even humans in the end despite all their upgrades.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
29 days ago
Reply to  Farouk

Not quite, bottom line is you need a GT that can generate sufficient power and highest power density engine around is the RR MT30. So QE and T26 in RN and Zumwalt, LCS1 in USN. That engine is a major export earner Italy, Japan, US, Canada, Australia, S Korea and rumour has it India.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Obviously all Tech info will be kept secret but it would be interesting to know the effective range… sounds very promising though.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
28 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Using existing system performance 2-5 Km max against a slow drone and dependent on the weather, humidity, and obscuration factors.

Physics as I have said many times is a bitch. Without altering the fundamental laws of nature you are limited on range and performance with current tech

Jon
Jon
1 month ago

We’ve had too many bad news articles recently, so good to read this, especially as reporting on Dragonfire has gone through a quiet period.

Iain
Iain
1 month ago

Checked the date, not April 1st. Therefore this is good news but now we need to be accelerating the testing program because unlike Nigel I don’t think we might need this sooner than later, I believe we need it right the hell now and it is only going to become clearer the longer the attacks continue in the Red Sea

DP
DP
1 month ago

So are we looking at this as a Phalanx replacement, or, if we can hit a £1 coin at 1km range, can this extrapolate to an effective kill at 25km (fringe of LOS say) …. and therefore a Ceptor replacement also? I dare say the further the target is from the laser source the longer the beam dwell time would need to be on target to overcome atmospheric losses etc? A target that ‘jinks’ would represent a greater challenge for the laser and its tracking system I dare say?

Pete ( the original from years ago)
Pete ( the original from years ago)
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

Hope we don’t put all our eggs (faith) in one golden basket. CAMM, 30/40mm, 5″, Dragonfly and phalanx would all have a roll…especially in fog, rain, blizzards !!😉

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago

I just wondered that on a previous thread Weather conditions was also raised just hope that “Rain stopped play” isn’t an issue you would have thought that the boffins behind Dragonfly have factored those into tests carried out , or just place them on ships stationed in the Persian Gulf as Weather conditions around the Falklands vary greatly

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

I would hope (initially at least) this weapon would be fitted as an addition to phalanx rather than a replacement. Primarily as a cheap anti-drone weapon and backup anti missile system.
The “cheap” FPV drones seen as such a problem are only likely to operate in clear conditions and are unlikely to be radar guided.
Anything that was, or could carry a radar/IR guided missile, would be a valid CAAM target anyway?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

Yes I think that’s the realistic take. As simple drones become so important that capability alone will be very precious. Build up from there.

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Could a few smoke granades lobbed in the LOS render it ineffective?

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank62

There’s probably someone on this Thread that can give you a full scientific detail of smoke parts per million interference with laser beam particles in a salty ozone environment and its squareroot 😀😀😀

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank62

Alas Frank I don’t know how long a smoke grenade in an open Seastate environment would hang around for

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

If the ship is on the move then it ought to be able to simply move away from the affected area, so not too much of an issue there. On the other hand, if in port you already have a problem if someone is close enough to lob smoke grenades around…

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

👍

DP
DP
1 month ago

Good point Pete and Tommo, weather/atmospherics would need to be factored into any future Escort ships weapons inventory.

Pete ( the original from years ago)
Pete ( the original from years ago)
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

Still a good option…conditions good, target suitable….you use it as low cost multi shot system. …..provided unit cost per system is reasonable.

DP
DP
1 month ago

Yes, agree, goes along way to eliminating the many concerns over unit cost of missiles expended, as debated on here about the current Red Sea confrontation and Ukraine conflict. I reckon the laser unit costs will be high, given the necessary payback on development but potentially worth it spread over a typical lifetime.

Redshift
Redshift
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

Good point? The same comment has been made every single time anything to do with Lasers or DEW is mentioned, somehow I doubt that those involved in the project have completely and absolutely never even though of this as an issue, whereas almost 100 percent of posters on this forum spot it straight way.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Redshift

I agree, I mean who would stick a rocket launch site on the northern edge of the Shetlands expecting any launch company to buy into it eh… oh right.

On that note I was surprised to read how southern Texas has an awful lot of days when a launch will be affected by the weather conditions… if rather different ones for the most part to Shetland.

Redshift
Redshift
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Better than putting a “spaceport” in Cornwall who’s only launcher fluffs it’s first attempt and goes bankrupt! Lol

Saxaford has a better chance as , geographically it is well positioned for launching satellites into polar orbits, and to be fair all such locations will have poor weather.

Jonno
Jonno
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

If you are fighting in narrow seas things like islands get in the way. You need missiles for indirect fire and thick weather. For instance I’ve yet to see one of our ships fire weapons in anything but flat calm moving at 15 kn. Lots to think about; but scary stuff.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

I suspect that second part of your comment likely answers the first part with its question. Dwell time would for the foreseeable future not really making it a good Phalanx replacement as a last gasp defence. I think short term at least it will be an extra layer most useful and cheap against drones with some increasing capability at longer range against missiles and other threats giving it time to damage them or blind their sensors. Years of testing ahead no doubt. I believe the US has prototype ship mounted lasers under test but haven’t heard they have rushed them… Read more »

John
John
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

I remember well industry and the navy claiming Sea Wolf could hit a 4.5″ incoming shell at range…of course “industry” will make claims, they make lots. Suck up millions, then move onto the next wonder weapon. Its all pie in the sky. Stick this on a Type 45, then see if it works on a murky, stormy day in a rough sea in the Atlantic against a tennis ball….

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
28 days ago
Reply to  John

We regularly hit 4.5 shells with Wolf. It was part of the acceptance trial after maintenance or system upgrades. You could actually see the shells on the system tracking runs on the TV monitor for around 2 seconds before they hit the sea.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
28 days ago
Reply to  DP

Yep all of the above are issues.
To kill something at 25Km you would need a multi Giga Watt Laser and it would be the size of a LPD!
With current tech
A target that is doing 250kph needs a dwell time of say 5 seconds. You engage at max range of the system (50-100 Kw) say 5km (optimistic).
A single target will travel 350m so 15 targets would probably overwhelm the system factoring in dwell time, tracking and acquisition time.

Physics! Gotta love it!

PeterDK
PeterDK
1 month ago

Perspectives of this are really interesting. No ammunition stocks, no complex reloading, simplified logistics. If range and engagement time per target is comparable to e.g. Phalanx, it would be a great supplement to (or replacement of) existing CIWS systems. And they could basically be put on anything – carriers, Rivers, RFAs…

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago

Considering you don’t have to worry about debris from this, it would seem a no brainer to cram the QEs to the gunnel with them

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago

I’m sceptical regarding these point defence lasers, I think they have a long way to go before they reach the utility of reliable alternative gun systems.

What can a laser do, that a T31 40mm mount can’t do??

How does poor weather effect them?

If they are defeated by sea fog or heavy rain, then they really are borderline pointless and extremely expensive toys.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Just to add, I would fit the 40mm mounts onto the QE Class, they would give better protection than phalanx and considerably better protection than the current ‘fu#k all’ point defence fit!!

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Yes and before they send the carriers through the Suez or to any CSG deployment. No decoy or anti torpedo launchers onboard by the look of it either.

UKDJ
UKDJ
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

I’d say they’d be very useful for VSHORAD against small UAV’s and FPV drones when in port or close to shore. Especially considering that you hardly want shrapnel flying all over the place around fancy radars, optics and a deck full of F-35’s. It’s about layering the defence with SeaCeptor, guns, lasers and EW. Sure an FPV drones isn’t going to sink a ship but you wouldn’t want it igniting a missile on a deck and it hitting a radar is effectively a mission kill for a ship like T45. Plenty of enemies would see wiping out an F-35 or… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by UKDJ
John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  UKDJ

Very good points….

I wonder if you could mount the system high up on a T45 mast, seems to me, the higher the better with a line of sight laser system to counter high swells etc.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

The higher you mount something the greater the degree of sway, though the targeting optics should be able to compensate.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Good point, but I would have thought Dragon fire has a fully stabilised laser with wide arcs of movement???

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Interesting points, I think however it will mostly only be used in CIWS against drones for the foreseeable and as a very last resort otherwise, I’m thinking medium range will be its forte esp against sensors, it doesn’t in most circumstances need to actually physically destroy the missile particularly when you are a moving target. .

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
28 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

The answer to what a laser can do that a missile can’t is 186,000 MPS rather than 2,727 MPH and it doesn’t slow down from the point it leaves the muzzle. The pulse necessary would probably be less than a second. It would literally look like hitting the target at the same time the weapon was fired. No lag, no flight time, no time to take avoiding action which definitely put the onus on targeting and acquisition. It isn’t Star Wars but a layered system using missiles with Lasers for the small or last ditch defence to replace CIWS or… Read more »

Nath
Nath
1 month ago

Put these on airships at 150,000ft and you’ve got a pretty useful intercontinental missile defence.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Nath

Splendid idea….. 😂

Nath
Nath
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

You’re a kind soul. Bless you. Have a good day.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Nath

Thanks bud ! … seriously though, It has to be able to generate power (heavy equipment) and it needs a pretty sophisticated type of Radar to be able to track and engage Ballistic Targets especially in “Look Down” mode… Not sure if these Airships would be the most Ideal platforms given their susceptibility to adverse weather at Launch or indeed at high altitude specially when you factor in things like “The Gulf Stream”. Also at 150.000 feet, they would probably have to be Autonomous, Crewless and built using totally different materials to those of which are currently available (Airlander)….. apart… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

And a bloody long mains lead 🔌

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

😂😂😂😂😂…. lol, as an avid Motorhome’r, i do worry about the length of my Electrical Hookup Cable at times !!!!

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

👍

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Nath

No, this is a very short range system, the Americans gave up on airborne anti ballistic missile systems, as the power output and targeting systems are ridiculously complex and expensive.

They filled an entire 747 with the system and it was
‘iffy’ effective on a good day.

Dragonfire is like a laser pointer in comparison.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Things have come a long way since that set up mind.

Jonno
Jonno
1 month ago
Reply to  Nath

Perhaps you only need a mirror on an Airship to redirect stuff…hmm.

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonno

I believe theres a mirror on the moon – perhaps they could use that ..well they could at night at least….

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

Presumably the tracking and targeting tech is ‘off the shelf’, so once the laser tech is mature then the roll-out could be quite quick? Or am I being overly optimistic?!

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

They were working very hard on tracking and targeting. A laser doesn’t work like a missile. You have to continually hold the position to a particular spot on a moving obect so that it heats that point up and breaks through. They were talking about Dragonfire producing a spot the size of a penny, maybe 2 cm diameter. Maintaining that accuracy level at kilometers distance over time is so not off-the-shelf.

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

A bit like burning ants with a magnifying glass then …appararently

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

True but I believe Leonardo have been working on their targeting technology for some years not sure in what context so it did sort of pre exist.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

£100 million on developing a lazer we probably won’t use. That’s about the cost of a T23 LIFEX.

Now we know why we can’t have nice things.

All fur coat, lazer beams and no knickers

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

“Laser” !

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

It will be used, guarantee it it’s an emerging technology at the beginning of its development, it’s just whether this system will be the solution or whether it’s merely a step on the way. Either way you have to start somewhere and similar dismissive comments were made about every advance from the tank, flying machines, the jet engine (Griffith- it will never generate enough thrust to do anything beyond power a propellor- and he pretty much detailed the turbine aero engine post WW1) and many more dismissed military projects.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
28 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

From what understand from ex colleagues who know about the aero side of things the RR Hybrid isn’t designed for this use. It’s for low emissions and Hybrid aircraft power and is just in the development stage, so a few years off. It can also be used as a stand alone GT generator or to power lift fans etc 🤔 However the RR MT30 is the beastie for the job, you just need to use the generated Electricity to power up either a Bank of Capacitors or Flywheels. The QE installation included the ability to provide power for GA EMAL… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
28 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Fur Coats, no Knickers or Fur Coats and dripping. Derbyshire or Notts ?

Cymbeline
Cymbeline
1 month ago

Slightly off topic. There’s some good video of Bradley’s chewing up Russian armour in the last day or so. Seems an impressive piece of kit.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago
Reply to  Cymbeline

Saw that – a T-90M as well. Appeared to be fully blinded by the autocannon leading to its eventual destruction

Cymbeline
Cymbeline
1 month ago

Only last year Putin described the T90m as the best MBT in the world. But from that video clip it looks like the crew were like rabbits caught in the headlights and not know which way to turn. I’m guessing it must have been a bit of a nightmare inside that tin can.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago
Reply to  Cymbeline

I don’t think even Putin would’ve believed that particular brag! Even laggards like Ariete and LeClerc are better than T-90

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago

Exactly everyone laughed at that prospect of a 20mm chain gun previously taking out a tank but has happened at least twice it seems first taking out the tank optics and then firing at the turret ring penetrating it there making the turret spin uncontrollably and finally catch fire and the tank trying to escape hitting a tree and the crew decamping. I hope we use Ukranians to teach us a few tricks when this is all over. Interestingly they use the same technique with their drones, even light ones targeting the turret ring from behind of even T-90s, the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Spyinthesky
Andy reeves
Andy reeves
1 month ago

Finally some news on the U.K LASER PROJECT it seems to have been going on forever to get to a possible deployable stage. It’s areas like this and cyber warfare that the U..K must be at the forefront of.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

Originally they said there would be active tests of the system at Shoebury Ness starting last Jan after successful initial tests of each part. It was quiet for a bit but there was an announcement some months later that tests were taking place, had been successful and they were moving onto the next stage at a more remote location where it could be tested at full power and greater range. The news today is thus the conclusion of those tests no doubt. So apart from some delay post last Jan be it the tests or simply announcements regarding it difficult… Read more »

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
1 month ago

Look forward to seeing it mounted on a Navy PODS aboard XV Patrick Blackett.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
1 month ago

I have seen CGI of Dragonfire on a container, so would assume it is something the Navy is thinking about. Would be useful for protecting RFAs when making deliveries to ports with a risk of attack, particularly around the Middle East, which seems generally to be the ideal region for Dragonfire.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Interesting that the Swedes had to take out a drone flying near the Queen Elizabeth when over there so shows the need for a defence against such things.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I think they used EW rather than hard kill. It was in a Swedish port at the time so firing Phalanx would have been an issue.

Stc
Stc
1 month ago

Your spot on Mr Collins, but does anyone think that Sunak,Starmer, Hunt and Shapps are anywhere near to grasping what you and others are saying. Or do you think they will keep their heads down and keep reiterating the same old sound bites written by the civil service and their liberal advisors in the hope the problem blows over ?

Marked
Marked
1 month ago

Need to throw a lot at getting this into a deployable state. It would be ideal for use on a ship for anti drone work. Finding a ship left to fit it to might be a challenge though…

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago

Both the Army and Royal Navy are considering using this technology as part of their future Air Defence capabilities.

Form a Committee. Replace with new Committee after five years. Replace head of Committee after two years and refine objectives. After three years carry out a deep review of progress. Scrap device at end of 18 months ‘exhaustive’ review. Buy an American system ‘in limited numbers’.

We need it now. Right now.

Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago

A little O/T but kind of related in terms of drone proliferation: The MOD has placed an order for new small surveillance drones to equip the British army. They’ll be getting “159 rotary-wing Indago 4 devices and 105 fixed-wing Stalker VXE30 drones, which are both capable of locating and identifying targets far from the operator, are due to be operational by the end of 2024.” All very commendable, lessons learned from Ukraine, etc. etc. Except that they’re paying £129 Million for ~260 tactical reconnaissance drones, which in Ukraine would last one of their brigades less than a week. I know… Read more »

fearlesstunafish
fearlesstunafish
1 month ago

at least our laser weapon has a decent name….. dragonfire is just plain better than some american abbreviation/number! ;P

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago

On a not unrelated note just been reading a US take on the EMALS on the new Chinese Carrier which it was claimed due to it using steam turbines there was a big question over how it could produce the power required, it conflicts with their own research though the Chinese have claimed a breakthrough that enables it. It’s interesting that no test of the system has been shown as yet but the US source claimed doubts that it could recharge in under 10 minutes or so based on their calculations and experience with their own system. Of course could… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
27 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I actually don’t see what who ever in the US said this is getting at ! It is completely irrelevant as the US Nuclear carriers are also actually steam powered using steam turbines. The only difference is the heat source, fossil fuel in boilers or nuclear in a rector and both are capable of producing very high SHP. The big difference is that you need to have turbo generators in your plant set up to produce the required electric power for EMAL, hotel functions, sensors, comms etc etc. You also need to have the a very clever automated switch gear… Read more »

Dokis
Dokis
1 month ago

Interesting. I an wondering whether we will see mirrors instead of armor in the future

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

Great news but by the time it is fully ready there will be no Warships to fit it to or sailors to man them!!!!!!

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
1 month ago

Not to mention the saving in logistics/supply chain and ammunition stowage requirements, ammunition manufacturing costs. Effectively unlimited ammunition on board for this weapon.

Tim
Tim
30 days ago

I think this is about as useful as a box of matches. Think about it. The target needs to be within 1km for 10 seconds. So maybe a small drone with maybe a small bomb. Literally anything moving faster than that will cover that 1km in less than 10 seconds and this thing is useless. A 12.7mm RWS with a small radar for guidance is already established tech and will cover a much wider range of targets than this. It won’t have all these massive development costs or anything like the footprint, topside weight or power consumption. It already exists.… Read more »

Last edited 30 days ago by Tim
Tim
Tim
30 days ago
Reply to  Tim

And to add to that, we would need 500 targets per unit per ship. So a fleet of 50 ships would need 25,000 targets just to break even on weight. And cost wise, I’m sure 100 rounds of 12.7 are more than £10, but how many 100 round shots could we have for the £100m we have pissed away on this.

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago

IF IS EFFECTIVE, THEN THE SYSTEM SHOULD BE DEPLOYED.

andy reeves
andy reeves
27 days ago

wonder what it was successful at doing? a successful trial says nothing. what was trial aimed at doing?