Laser Weapon System on USS Ponce
It's been announced that £30 million is being invested in developing a laser weapons system for the UK's military.
The deal will fund a demonstrator which it is hoped will pave the way to transforming Britain's future weapons technology.
Making the announcement Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "The UK has long enjoyed a reputation as a world leader in innovation. Our new Innovation Initiative will transform Defence culture to ensure that we stay ahead of the curve. With a rising Defence budget, and a £178 billion equipment plan, our commitment to collaboration will deliver a safer and more prosperous Britain.
"The Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) Capability Demonstrator set to be built by MBDA UK Ltd will lead to a one-off prototype, delivered by 2019, that shows how this technology can be exploited in the future. MBDA UK Ltd will assess how the system can acquire and track targets at range and in varying weather conditions over land and water, with sufficient precision to enable safe and effective engagement."
"A novel laser weapon could complement or replace existing weapons systems with the potential for significant benefits. It could be employed to protect our maritime and land forces; for example, ships from threat missiles or soldiers from enemy mortars."
The Secretary of State revealed the news as he introduced the Ministry of Defence’s new £800 million Innovation Initiative aimed at setting out how the UK will stay at the cutting edge of international security and defence.
The US Navy already have a laser weapons system in use on the amphibious transport ship the USS Ponce. First tested in 2014 against unmanned drones and small boats, the captain has now been given permission to use it as a defensive weapon.
Other examples of ground-breaking technology that the MOD will support are life-saving vital signs monitors, cutting edge anti-missile systems, tiny insect-inspired surveillance drones, quantum gravitational detectors and advanced protective materials.
The MOD’s commitment to collaboration with UK industry is further demonstrated by the BriteCloud decoy system. Designed and manufactured in the UK, BriteCloud uses powerful radar emissions to disrupt systems within radar-guided air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. A pilot can launch the compact unit, which is packed with advanced electronics, to confuse an attacking missile, drawing it away to a point where it no longer poses a threat.
The MOD is also in the process of introducing a new vital signs monitor, deployable on land, air, and sea. Similar to a tablet, Tempus Pro is capable of transmitting medical data in real time to medical facilities and treatment teams, giving them a better understanding of a patient’s condition and potentially saving lives.
A raft on new innovations will be showcased in October during Exercise Unmanned Warrior when more than forty international companies will test their unmanned vehicles off the UK coast.