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HomeNewsWatch: UK tests its super-precise 'DragonFire'

Watch: UK tests its super-precise ‘DragonFire’

NEW DELHI: The UK, Monday, successfully conducted the tests of its first-ever laser weapon, named “DragonFire,” which can deliver a high-power laser over long ranges.
The British Defence released a video on the X and said, “DragonFire is a new laser being developer by @dstlmod
for the

British military

. Watch its first high-power firing against an aerial target.”

DragonFire is precise enough to hit a £1 coin from a kilometre away, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

This weapon is so precise that it can hit a target as small as a coin, approximately 2.3 centimeters in diameter, from a distance of over 1 kilometer (0.6 miles). Moreover, the operational cost of the DragonFire laser is considerably lower than that of conventional air defence systems, a Newsweek report said.
A significant milestone was reached with the UK MoD’s announcement of the first high-power firing of the laser weapon against an aerial target. However, the full extent of DragonFire’s range remains classified.

In a recent address in London, Britain’s defence secretary Grant Shapps highlighted the transformative potential of such advanced weaponry. He said, “This type of cutting-edge weaponry has the potential to revolutionize the battlespace by reducing the reliance on expensive ammunition, while also lowering the risk of collateral damage.
“The MoD has revealed that the cost per shot of the DragonFire is under £10 [$12.70], positioning it as a cost-effective alternative for certain missions currently undertaken by missiles. Both the British Army and the Royal Navy are considering incorporating the DragonFire into their future air defence strategies.
The development of the laser is a collaborative effort involving the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and several British industry partners. The project marked its initial success with the first high-power static firing of the laser in November 2022, demonstrating its capability to track and engage aerial and sea targets with remarkable precision.
Paul Hollinshed, the head of Dstl, emphasized the significance of these trials, saying, “These trials have seen us take a huge step forward in realizing the potential opportunities and understanding the threats posed by directed energy weapons. With our decades of knowledge, skills, and operational experience, Dstl’s expertise is critical to helping the armed forces prepare for the future.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in the United States has noted that the US military has been exploring various prototypes of directed energy weapons, primarily for counter-drone operations, over the past decade. According to a report from May 2023, these weapons offer a cost-effective air defence solution with virtually unlimited firing capacity. However, they generally have a shorter range compared to traditional missiles and artillery and can be affected by adverse weather conditions. The GAO has also expressed concerns regarding the potential long-term health impacts of exposure to directed energy weapons.