The UK Dragonfire consortium – led by MBDA, and comprising Leonardo and QinetiQ – has brought together the best of relevant UK industry expertise to develop a Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) Capability Demonstrator Programme (CDP) on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), under contract to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
This new UK sovereign capability is designed to provide short-range air defence and close-in protection for naval vessels using a range of different effects depending on the tactical scenario. These include identifying, tracking and deterring a potential threat by dazzling its targeting sensors, as well as damaging or even destroying the incoming threat.
LDEW technology could revolutionise the future battlefield by allowing armed forces to operate without ammunition, reducing the risk of collateral damage.
Leonardo is providing the system's beam director, which is integrated into a turret to aid the advanced targeting of the incoming threat at various ranges and in varied weather conditions over land and water. The technology is critical to DragonFire and presents a major engineering challenge: to deliver ultra-precise tracking/pointing accuracy and stability, at long range, in order for a laser to defeat the target. This must be maintained while the target is moving, the platform carrying the laser system is moving and there is atmospheric interference in between the platform and the target.