Ministry of Defence (MoD) bosses announced last year a massive contract to develop a host of laser weapons dubbed Dragonfire.
Contractors were given the task of producing a high energy laserweapon that can be mounted on warships and ground vehicles such as tanks.Lasers are on the cusp of stepping out of the realms of science fiction – with weapons contractors around the world researching the futuristic tech.
The first tests of the weapon are now due to take place at the Dragonworks test facility run by defence firm QinetiQ, reports UK Defence Journal.
Dragonfire is the brainchild of a consortium of firms who are working with the MoD in the £30million project.
Laser cannons work by stimulating the electrons in certain materials which then emit light waves, which can be amplified and made to travel together in a searing narrow beam.
Dragonfire will be developing a road map for a mass rollout of the new weapon and the development of a demonstration version for 2019.If the prototype is successful, the first laser weapons would come into service by the mid 2020s.Defence scientists and engineers have been working on last technology since the 1970s.
When Dragonfire was announced, minister Harriet Baldwin said: "The UK has long enjoyed a reputation as a world leader in innovation and it is truly ground-breaking projects like the Laser Directed Energy Weapon which will keep this country ahead of the curve.
“The Defence Innovation Initiative and £800M Defence Innovation Fund aim to encourage imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, in pursuit of maintaining a military advantage in the future.“With a rising Defence budget, and a £178 billion equipment plan, our commitment to innovation will deliver a safer and more prosperous Britain.”
Steve Wadey, QinetiQ CEO, said: “Dragonworks introduces a brand new sovereign capability, which will significantly enhance the UK’s ability to operate and characterise high energy lasers.
“It will help our customers to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with this disruptive technology, informing their critical strategic and tactical decisions.“We are investing in this asset as part of our strategy to modernise the UK’s test and evaluation services, which will ensure our customers can keep pace with rapid technological advances and maintain their competitive edge.”