The project will assess innovative laser directed energy weapon technologies and approaches, culminating in a demonstration of the system in 2018/19.
The contract will assess how the system can acquire and track targets at range, in varying weather conditions, over land and water, and, crucially, with sufficient precision to enable safe and effective engagement.
Nick Joad, from the MOD’s Defence Science & Technology, said:
This is being made possible under the disruptive capabilities initiative that the MOD is delivering to ensure it retains the ability to have a decisive edge through the use of advanced technology and is part of a suite of advanced technology and systems studies and demonstrations.
Dstl’s Peter Cooper said:
This is a significant demonstration programme aimed at maturing our understanding of what is still an immature technology. It draws on innovative research into high power lasers so as to understand the potential of the technology to provide a more effective response to the emerging threats that could be faced by UK armed forces.
Rear Admiral Paul Bennett said:
The Royal Navy remains committed to the rapid exploitation of revolutionary concepts and scientific advances. The LDEW project sits alongside other cutting edge initiatives that together keep the Royal Navy at the forefront of change and well placed to be an early adopter of innovative technologies.
MBDA UK Ltd intend to work with a number of partners from across the UK with international reputations, including QinetiQ and Selex ES Ltd, BAE Systems, Marshall Aerospace & Defence, GKN PLC and Arke Ltd.
On being notified of MOD’s decision to award the contract, Dave Armstrong of MBDA said:
Under MBDA’s lead, UK DRAGONFIRE will put the UK at the forefront of high energy laser systems, capitalising on the experience of joint MoD/Industry working in the complex weapons environment. Furthermore, it advances the UK towards a future product with significant export potential, as well as providing opportunities for partnerships with other nations’ armed forces that have similar requirements.