DSEI 2021 – 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.
The first laser system will undergo user testing onboard a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate by detecting, tracking, engaging and countering Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, whilst the British Army’s Wolfhound armoured vehicle will host a laser demonstrator that will investigate capability against UAV and other air threats.
Additionally, the radio frequency demonstrator will also be used by the British Army, hosted on a MAN SV truck to detect and track a variety of air, land and sea targets. This will create around 30 new jobs at Thales in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
“The MoD has awarded three contracts worth around £72.5 million to UK industry to produce advanced laser and radio frequency demonstrators as part of the Novel Weapons Programme. Known collectively as Directed Energy Weapons (DEW), these next-generation technologies could revolutionise the battlefield and reduce the risk of collateral damage. The systems are powered by electricity and operate without ammunition, significantly reducing operating costs, increasing platform endurance and providing unprecedented offensive and defensive flexibility to personnel on the frontline.”
Awarded to consortia headed by Thales and Raytheon UK, the four-year contracts will create at least 49 new jobs and sustain 249 jobs.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, said:
“We are investing £6.6 billion in research and development across Defence over the next four years, reaffirming our commitment to provide the Armed Forces with truly advanced capabilities. Directed Energy Weapons are a key element of our future equipment programmes and we intend to become a world-leader in the research, manufacture and implementation of this next-generation technology.”
The Ministry ofDefence say that these capabilities will be integrated onto existing platforms for the Royal Navy and British Army and will undergo user experimentation from 2023 to 2025.