In the UK, the DRAGONFIRE consortium led by MBDA and including Leonardo and QuinetiQ in collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the UK Ministry of Defence is tasked with the development of a Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) for land and sea applications designated DRAGONFIRE, MBDA writes in a press release.
Initial trials are to test the accuracy and performance of the new type of laser weapon. Reportedly, the first series of tests have confirmed that the system can track air and sea targets with high accuracy. A static laser test at high power is the next step. The third step will be to combine the results of the first two series of tests with tracking accuracy and high-power lasers and engage targets in operational scenarios.
From the industry team’s point of view, the main challenge of an LDEW system is the safe control and focussing of high laser power on a point at a large distance. The tracking trial was to reveal how the components of the DRAGONFIRE tracking system interact in this respect.
According to MBDA, the trials used a low-power QinetiQ laser, Leonardo’s beam director and MBDA’s image processing and control technology to achieve precise “fine” pointing and tracking accuracy, which will be required to generate the damage effect ith a high-power laser.
Reportedly, other subsystems such as C2, Effector Management System and coarse tracking (the alignment of the laser with the target) were also tested during the trials.