The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is finalising the agreement of a £30M contract with UK DRAGONFIRE, a UK industrial team led by MBDA, to conduct the Laser Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) Capability Demonstrator.
UK DRAGONFIRE will achieve, through the Laser Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) Capability Demonstrator, a significant step change in the UK’s capability in High Energy Laser Weapon Systems and will provide the basis for technology-driven operational advantage. The program will mature the key technologies for a high energy defensive laser weapon system and will include the engagement of representative targets in land and maritime environments in 2019. The program will also provide the body of evidence for future procurement decisions.
UK DRAGONFIRE is a collaborative consortium led by MBDA with QinetiQ and Leonardo-Finmeccanica that has brought together the best of relevant UK industry expertise to deliver the highly challenging and complex program. The team also capitalises on the strengths of the individual companies involved, which includes GKN, Arke, BAE Systems and Marshall ADG.
The UK DRAGONFIRE proposal builds on the significant MoD and Industry investment in the areas of laser coherent beam combining, weapon systems command and control, advanced pointing systems and high power storage.
Welcoming the announcement, Dave Armstrong Executive Group Director Technical and UK Managing Director 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.”
Steve Wadey, QinetiQ Chief Executive Officer said, “This program is a great example of companies pooling expertise to provide the MoD with the best solution. QinetiQ will provide the high-powered laser system that will be used in the test, as well as conducting the trial itself at one of the ranges we manage for the MoD as part of the Long Term Partnering Agreement. It’s an opportunity for us to provide innovative technology, and use our testing and evaluation expertise to ensure a successful demonstration.”
Norman Bone, Managing Director of Leonardo Air and Space Systems said, “We are pleased to be part of a strong UK team that I believe can deliver the right solution for this challenging program. Leonardo will contribute the electro-optic beam director to the program and support the trials and evaluation. This demonstrator will be at the forefront of UK technology research and fits within our strategy to develop the next generation of laser systems.”
With a significant presence in five European countries and within the USA, in 2015 MBDA achieved a turnover of 2.9 billion euros with an order book of 15.1 billion euros. With more than 90 armed forces customers in the world, MBDA is a world leader in missiles and missile systems.
MBDA is the only European group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems that correspond to the full range of current and future operational needs of the three armed forces (land, sea and air). In total, the group offers a range of 45 missile systems and countermeasures products already in operational service and more than 15 others currently in development.
MBDA is jointly held by AIRBUS Group (37.5%), BAE SYSTEMS (37.5%), and Leonardo - Finmeccanica (25%).