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.

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farouk
farouk
5 days ago

Interesting field and one i feel the Uk is late to the party with. Israel and the US are already operating such devices in fact Israel has been working on Iron Beam a laser version of iron dome for a few years now. The other month they fitted such a device inside a Cessna and used it to take out a number of UAVs Turkey has been developing such a weapon and revealed to the world last month its NAZAR system, a system they started developing in 2016 google the below for a article on it: The NAZAR Laser Electronic… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
5 days ago
Reply to  farouk

What happened to Dragonfire?

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
5 days ago
Reply to  farouk

Strange that we’re going with new companies when Leonardo still have it on their site:

https://uk.leonardocompany.com/en/innovation/dragonfire

No updates news wise that I can see since March though.

https://www.c4isrnet.com/global/europe/2021/03/15/britains-dragonfire-ship-laser-gun-to-get-accuracy-boost/

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
5 days ago
Reply to  farouk

Last I heard Dragonfire had been retasked to miniaturise their system to fit within Tempest.

Jon
Jon
5 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Four years ago a £30m contract was handed out for the Dragonfire capability demonstrator. Then about two years ago we heard the Ministry of Defence was planning to invest up to £150 million developing three directed-energy weapon demonstrators, including one aimed at killing drones. As I read it back then, these were separate from Dragonfire. The Dragonfire demo at the end of last year was cancelled due to technical issues, but an article still sounded bullish in March this year. I’m pretty sure we have the announcement of the contracts of the alternative programme here, and Dragonfire is probably still… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  farouk

I am not sure we are that late. There is zero point in deploying immature technology that is not 100% functional. Laser weapons are only just getting to the stage of being any use to anyone for anything and really they are a little way of being truely battlefield ready. I suspect that is is more to do with the trajectory of progress being stated that something useful to test will exist by that date. I would not be surprised if the test bed is Portland as it has the new power systems that will be in T26. Fun to… Read more »

Steven B
Steven B
5 days ago

That is Richmond is it not? Portland has a new sonar.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  Steven B

You are probably right and I’m probably wrong!

Reaper
Reaper
5 days ago

I’m not sure about lasers, I like the kinetic energy way of destroying stuff…like phalanx

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

I think there will be a longish period where both are needed.

They are complimentary in a layered system.

Just my 20p worth……

Reaper
Reaper
5 days ago

Yeah having boths probably a good idea.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 days ago

Indeed especially as Phalanx has hardly had a stelar record in the few occasions it’s been used in action even if it’s supposedly been enhanced since those days but is increasingly being replaced by SeaRam by the US and others in their high end assets. However I feel a serious look at CIWS for future exploitation. Ships are going to need a range of defences and multiple close in even I suspect, as offensive weapons become increasingly potent and smart and I’m sure laser and microwave and no doubt other beamed weapons will play a vital role. Not confident kinetic… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Ram needs a mini command system , radar input to detect the target or an EW bearing line to slew the launcher onto the incoming missiles bearing line. If the missile is an ARM or IR homer then there is no EW bearing line and the missile needs to use the IR homing mode , not its RF homing mode. If the incoming missile is a stealthy IR homer you will need the radar to give you a bearing line to shoot down. If the incoming is a mix of IR and ARM homers you will lose your radar in… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

In 81 watched what was at the time a Top Secret film of phalanx taking out an am39 Exocet phalanx locked on engaged and splashed its intended target with just yards too spare ,MOD was dithering whether to purchase them I truly now,believe in getting a Degree in Hindsight Have a weapon and not need it then not have the weapons when needed

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
4 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

In 83 I was operating the 910 tracker video system when Sea Wolf shot down an exocet off Wales. By then phalanx was being bought in for everything that didn’t have Sea Wolf.

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Exactly one to to late

BB85
BB85
5 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

It its to combat swarms, even phalanx would struggle to intercept 100 plus cheap drones / rockets launch to saturate defenses. Having said the I don’t think current laser technology can take out 100 plus drones in a short space of time either. I guess its all about options and layers.

Adrian
Adrian
5 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Reaper they have the potential to be far superior once the kinks are worked out – especially with targeting, cooldown, reload times etc. But I agree that I’m more comfortable with the idea of a kinetic intervention against an incoming projectile.

I imagine that direct energy weapons have a greater effective range then Phalanx, so they might be the first line in a layered defence on ships. Meaning that a ship would still retain a kinetic option if something gets past the laser show.

Last edited 5 days ago by Adrian
Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

But their a bugger doing emergency ammunition resupply sorry that was Goalkeeper

Nick Newbie
Nick Newbie
11 hours ago
Reply to  Reaper

Well DEW is cheaper per shot, lasers are faster than kinetic weapons (speed of light) and could i imagine provide an effective line of sight defence against something like anti ship missiles.

eclipse
eclipse
5 days ago
Reply to  farouk

Simply put, we do not have the urgency of Israel, and we just aren’t the United States. In my view, until a majority of countries, at least major countries, have something, one cannot be late to anything.

Reaper
Reaper
5 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Israel is rather impressive at times with what they design and build quickly. Maybe all the Aid money it gets helps…

Last edited 5 days ago by Reaper
James William Fennell
James William Fennell
5 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

The Israeli government owns and invests in much of the domestic defence industry, so it is protected. Also they have a citizen armed forces, so most technologists are also soldiers at the weekend.

Nathan
Nathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

What do they say, “necessity is the mother of invention”? Iron Dome missiles cost a pretty packet – to defend Israel from Hamas’ and Iran’s hundreds of thousands of rockets would require enormous banks of missiles and I expect would cost far more to defend than the Iran would spend to attack – asymmetric economic warfare.

Lasers, at pounds per shot could totally re-balance those scales and finally put them ahead of the threat. I guess Iran is holding off from unleashing a massive conventional attack because of Israel’s nuclear deterrent. If Iran gets the bomb things all change.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Agreed we simply can’t afford (both technically and financially) to get so much wrong so that we are first to the show certainly outside of an emergency scenario and as Reaper says below Israel is both in an emergency scenario and gets billions of American aid to produce its weapons often with unique US tech and with the proviso the US gets priority in this feeding back into its own defence system. Equally as good as their stuff is it’s often I think their active experience and professionalism with much of that tech that fine tunes it’s abilities and promotes… Read more »

Farouk
Farouk
5 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Sorry , I was trying to reply to the post below and can’t delete this one.

Last edited 5 days ago by Farouk
Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  farouk

Ww had an Argon based Laser Fitted in 1982 a,pilot blinder not a death star though

Farouk
Farouk
5 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

That worked fine until those pesky kids turned up and used the force. And it really was the real thing.

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  Farouk

Didn’t know Scrooby do wS a Jedi

Sean
Sean
4 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Pretty sure weapons designed to blind combatants is against the Geneva Convention.

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Tell that to the Chinese, they’ve been developing lasers for infantry the only protection against these sort of weapons is the known Frequency of the laser I don’t really think their into adhering too the rules set down by Geneva

Sean
Sean
4 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

I thought we set ourselves a higher standard than that of the Chinese; such as democracy, the rule of law, not committing genocide, etc.

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

If you don’t support the party then you’ll always be silenced one utterance of decent can mean imprisonment or worse

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

60-61AD Boadicea was I think the last Brit to commit genocide when she slaughtered the population of Londinium

Sean
Sean
4 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

I don’t think that would qualify as genocide, though it was a slaughter.
Whereas of course China is currently committing genocide to the Uyghurs.

As I said, I believe the U.K. strives to have better standards that the CCP, and that includes abiding by the Geneva Convention.

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Çhina’s persecution of religious minorities isn’t just directed towards the Uyghurs ,Christians are in the firing line as well re-education camps and imprisonment .The world sèe’s it and knows about it but the Chinese population doesn’t

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

I would believe that looking into the capabilites of this new generation of laser defence weapons would be used against unmanned, threats . I don’t think that Lasers were incorporated into the Geneva convention in 82 I might be wrong Sean

Onlygw
Onlygw
4 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

And also St. Albans and Colchester I think! She didn’t mess around!

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Onlygw

Correct I just didn’t remember.ber the Latin names for each town she’d probably end up in the Hague in today’s world

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

For Ethnic cleasing

Tams
Tams
5 days ago
Reply to  farouk

None of those are officially operational systems. And companies quite often put into operation demostration units before they are ready for being deployed; either as advanced testing or to try and keep their funding.

As others have mentioned here, the UK absolutely has been investing in directed energy weapons.

It’s like the PLA Navy and their railgun. Yes, they put it on a ship. Has anyone actually seen it being operated though?

Dylan Evans
Dylan Evans
5 days ago

So is this a resurrection of Dragonfire or has that been shelved?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 days ago
Reply to  Dylan Evans

That’s the big question isn’t it or do these weapons or systems have a different or complimentary role, or even timescale? Difficult to discern but now that they have come to the fore I’m sure some answers real or speculated will percolate out. However considering their weight and expertise in this area it’s difficult to see how Leonardo and MBDA can simply be excluded from such weapon systems at this stage as surely some of their tech cannot simply be discarded or replaced that easily especially after 3 to 5 years of previous highly paid commitment to the laser programme.… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
5 days ago
Reply to  Dylan Evans

No, this is completely separate to Dragonfire. This program is for a highly directional RF jammer. Which will be used to overwhelm a drone’s radio datalink control signal. Depending on the transmitted power, it may also cause severe electromagnetic interference (EMI) that damages electronic components. Thereby causing a drone to loose control.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I wondered what they where going to do with all those old 909 trackers ….now we know!

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

The domes make great Glamping pods

Steve M
Steve M
5 days ago

Set phaser to stun Mr Sulu 🙂

Reaper
Reaper
5 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

I can just imagine the future with energy pulse type weapons! Energy torpedoes like Star Trek

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
5 days ago

It’s new tech, so no one will fess up to much of anything. Laser technology is not something you can demonstrate that easily, however it is something every nation and its dog could claim to own.

We’ve all seem the ‘laser’ pens, torches etc at use, so I think it is fair to say that somewhere in a ‘bunker’ someplace has a person called “Q” working on it.

Reaper
Reaper
5 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

The USAF has videos testing it’s lasers on all types of materials.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
5 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Does it? And we would be sure of that because?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

The US is trialing such weapons true, it even shot down an Iranian drone with one but that was an early test of concept prototype similar to what is about to happen here it seems. They are already as reported early this year moving on to an upgraded version so they are still some way from delivering a final production version on their ships, their new ships are to be built with far upgraded power delivery to fully exploit the real thing. Similar situation on land though closer to a production version I think after successful tests, but then that’s… Read more »

chris stocken
chris stocken
5 days ago

Eldorado Again!. Great as long as it’s not raining or foggy.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 days ago
Reply to  chris stocken

Funny how the US ARM and USN land based tests seem to happen at white sands …a desert location at an altitude of 3500ft with no moisture, air pollution or fog!

Its been on USN ships in the Gulf but again its going to be weather constrained. Even to day having just been outside my office on the waterfront in Bahrain, its hazy at 0730 and already pushing high 30s, humidity is over 50%…another lovely day in the Gulf!

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  chris stocken

And Cloaking abilities like the Romulans

Reaper
Reaper
5 days ago

Does it have the power? With all the add ons to the type 23s over the years must use far more power these days, did lifex help in this are yeah?

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

The one that we had fitted in 1982 was a blinder nowadays their Pen sized and do the same job with less amps progres still not Death Star quality

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Ours needed 2 amplifiers fitted so yes Reaper they can naff draw the Amps

Reaper
Reaper
5 days ago

Would also be nice to trial them on the Carriers.

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

When in use hairdryers and curling tongs will not be allowed

Andrew D
Andrew D
5 days ago

Hope we have more success than some of our other systems 🙏to say no more

David Steeper
David Steeper
5 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Barely employed Army officers not involved so we should be alright.
😀

Umbra
Umbra
5 days ago

The RN has previously used laser weapons in a certain capacity.

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  Umbra

We had one fitted in July 82 very hush hush at the time it was Argon based a pilot blinder not a plane destroyer very pretty green beam but lord did it draw the Amps had to place 2 amplifiers to make it work had to have it removed prior to returning from the Falklands

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Cheavage!

Was great on night shoots.
Big amps, chilled water supply and a bicycle brake handle to open the aperture to get the laser beam out
Was removed because it was made to wound not kill people ( Blind them) so it was against the Geneva Convention and rules for war in that you employ stuff to kill not maim

Last edited 5 days ago by Gunbuster
Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

I like that Gunbuster Kill not Main ,7.62 down to 5.56

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

It was rather Heath Robinson in its set up everyone thought it was going to make a BBC sound effect when the lever was pulled then Nothing damn

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

The TAS apes operated it when we where in the Gulf in the late 80s because they had nothing better to do…no ASW threat in the Gulf during the tanker war just floating mines and Boghammers…They had bought sound effect key fobs in Dubai and let Star Trek phaser sounds loose over the Gunnery Broadcast when they where firing it!

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

We passed a 22 in the gulf whilst preparing to mow the lawn (sweeo) might of been the London and oow ask me what the fxxx are those by the Bridge I told him looks like an Argon Laser. His reply Yeah lasers with photon torpedoes

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

15/9/21 Sky news exclusive Royal Navy to get Lasers for the first time Derr only 39yrs out

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago

We Had a prototype ARGON Laser fitted on our ship in July 1982 pretty green beam but boy did it draw the amps

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

The One that was fitted was to blind the pilot not capable of doing a Death star scene it was dismantled before we returned from the Falklands

Daddy Mack
Daddy Mack
5 days ago

Is that the best picture they could come up with?

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago
Reply to  Daddy Mack

Come on now normality the staff are only allowed crayons

Jason M Holmes
Jason M Holmes
5 days ago

Was that laser graphic done using Paint in 5 minutes?

Adrian
Adrian
5 days ago

Love the photoshop work.
Especially the lightening effects coming off the laser aperture – adds some character.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 days ago

Its not going to replace phalanx. Its not going to knock down missiles Its not going to be much use out further than , if you are lucky, than about 3 Km Its for knocking down drones and engaging boat swarms. Its going to be very dependent on weather and atmospheric conditions. For a T23 its a good fit. Post Sea Wolf there is lots of additional power and cooling available. It saves having to use a Ceptor to kill a small loitering airborne drone. For boat swarms it will add an extra layer to the already fitted 4.5 and… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

No need for Anti flash just set frequency sunglasses

Jason Mortimore
Jason Mortimore
5 days ago

Can they fit it to a shark though?

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago

Hammerhead or Greatwhite external power pack if possible Dolphin’s would be a better solution

Andy Reeves
Andy Reeves
4 days ago

excellent. its imrtant that the u.k stay at the forefront of laser technology. its not rocket science to understand that the future of warfare lies in this kind of area. the u.k must lead the way on it

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago

Possible seismic shift in Australian submarine contract with France:

to be cancelled.

Australia will now want nuclear attacks submarines instead with US and or UK input.

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Oh la la curse that damn Anglo friendship

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago

Submarines:
Australia, US and UK to form AUUKUS under a new nuclear defence pact.
Scott Morrison will announce Australia’s submarine program will “go nuclear” under a new defence pact that could spell bad news for China.

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Australia should of asked us a few years ago whilst we still had the S and T hunterkillers they could have been a stop gap prior to China’s expansion Hindsight again