The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense is developing cutting-edge laser and radio frequency weapons which have the potential to revolutionize the battlefield, according to an MOD news release.
The state-of-the-art weapons systems, known as Directed Energy Weapons (DEW), are powered solely by electricity and operate without ammunition.
The systems could be fueled by a vehicle’s engine or a generator, significantly reducing their operating costs and providing unprecedented flexibility on the front line.
In a Prior Information Notice (PIN) published this week, the MOD announced it is seeking to develop three new DEW demonstrators to explore the potential of the technology and accelerate its introduction onto the battlefield.
The new systems are expected to be trialed in 2023 on Royal Navy ships and Army vehicles but, once developed, both technologies could be operated by all three services.
The laser weapons systems deploy high energy light beams to target and destroy enemy drones and missiles. Radio Frequency weapons are designed to disrupt and disable enemy computers and electronics.
Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:
Laser and Radio Frequency technologies have the potential to revolutionize the battlefield by offering powerful and cost-effective weapons systems to our armed forces.
This significant investment demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our armed forces operate at the forefront of military technology.
The new systems are expected to be trialed in 2023 on Royal Navy ships and Army vehicles but, once developed, both technologies could be operated by all three services. The armed forces will use these exercises to get a better understanding of DEW, test the systems to their limits and assess how they could be integrated with existing platforms.
The MOD aims to invest up to £130 million in this package of Directed Energy Weapons, including the construction of the demonstrators, the creation of a new Joint Program Office and the recruitment of personnel to manage the program.
These demonstrators are part of the MOD’s “Novel Weapons Program” which is responsible for the trial and implementation of innovative weapons systems to ensure the UK remains a world leader in military technology. They are expected to reach the front line within 10 years.
The MOD already has plans for initial trials of laser weapons systems, with the Dragonfire demonstrator commissioned by the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory to be tested later this year.
The Dragonfire represents a world-first in laser weapons technology, combining multiple laser beams to produce a weapons system that is more powerful than its predecessors and resistant to the most challenging environmental conditions.
The MOD also has over 30 years’ experience in Radio Frequency DEW, during which time the UK has become a world leader in developing new power generation technologies and a global hub for the performance testing and evaluation of these systems.