UK successfully fires high-powered laser weapon DragonFire at aerial target

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The UK successfully fired a high-powered laser weapon at an aerial target, in what could be a replacement for expensive missiles.

Currently, missiles are mainly used to shoot down drones, which can be expensive. The drones are usually less expensive than the missiles used to down them.

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In a trial firing held at the UK defense ministry’s Hebrides range, the laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) system achieved the UK’s first high-power firing of a laser weapon against an aerial target, the UK government said in an announcement.

Titled DragonFire laser, the newly developed system can reportedly hit any target within its line of sight. The range was not specified.

“This type of cutting-edge weaponry has the potential to revolutionize the battlespace by reducing the reliance on expensive ammunition, while also lowering the risk of collateral damage,” British defense secretary Grant Shapp said.

This weapon engages its targets using a powerful beam of light to cut through the body, potentially leading to structural failure or more impactful results if the warhead is targeted, the statement said.

They claim that firing the laser for 10 seconds consumes as much energy as using a heater for one hour. “Therefore, it has the potential to be a long-term low-cost alternative to certain tasks missiles currently carry out,” the government statement said.

It reportedly costs $12.7 (£10) per shot.

Development of the tech is led by the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory on behalf of the UK defense ministry alongside MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ, and cost $127 million (£100 million) in joint investment.

The army and navy are supposedly considering implementing this tech into their defense capabilities. The system reportedly has the capability to track moving air and sea targets with very high accuracy at range.

The US navy has installed similar systems on their destroyers.

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