DragonFire: UK fires high-power laser at aerial targets for first time - with 'intense beam of light' able to cut through drones

The UK military has carried out its first high-power firing of a laser against aerial targets - with the weapon using an "intense beam of light" to cut through drones.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said latest trial of the DragonFire system, which typically costs less than £10 a shot, marks a "major step in bringing this technology into service".

DragonFire is a "line of sight weapon" that can "engage with any visible target" at the speed of light, the MoD has said.

The ministry added that the weapon "boasts pinpoint accuracy" and uses an "intense beam of light to cut through the target, leading to structural failure or more impactful results if the warhead is targeted".

The laser has been fired at aerial targets for the first time during a trial at the MoD's Hebrides Range in northwest Scotland.

DragonFire was able to destroy incoming drones from several positions miles away, The Times has reported.

It is hoped the weapon could reduce the UK Armed Forces' reliance on high-cost ammunition, with the cost of firing the laser for 10 seconds equivalent to using a regular heater for an hour.

Both the Army and Royal Navy are considering using this technology as part of their future air defence capabilities.

The MoD recently announced its intention to fund a multi-million pound programme to transition the technology from the research environment to the battlefield.

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Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said: "This type of cutting-edge weaponry has the potential to revolutionise the battlespace by reducing the reliance on expensive ammunition, while also lowering the risk of collateral damage.

"Investments with industry partners in advanced technologies like DragonFire are crucial in a highly contested world, helping us maintain the battle-winning edge and keep the nation safe."

Shimon Fhima, director of strategic programmes at the MoD, said: "The DragonFire trials at the Hebrides demonstrated that our world-leading technology can track and engage high-end effects at range. In a world of evolving threats, we know that our focus must be on getting capability to the warfighter and we will look to accelerate this next phase of activity."

The development of DragonFire is being led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), on behalf of the MoD, working with its industry partners MBDA, Leonardo and QinetiQ.

The weapon system is the result of a £100m joint investment by the MoD and its industry partners.