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DragonFire: The new British military laser that shoots down drones

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The DragonFire weapon will work by using an intense beam of light to cut through its target. It is now expected to be ready for deployment by 2027 at the latest.
News reporter
Friday 12 April 2024 00:56, UK
A new British military laser could be used in Ukraine to shoot down Russian drones, the defence secretary has suggested.
The DragonFire weapon, which is expected to be ready for deployment by 2027 at the latest, could have „huge ramifications” for Kyiv’s conflict against Russia, Grant Shapps said.
New reforms aimed at speeding up procurement mean the laser, which was originally set to be rolled out in 2032, will now be operational five years earlier than planned, according to the Ministry of Defence.
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But Mr Shapps said he would look to see if the pace can be increased further „in order for Ukrainians perhaps to get their hands on it”.
„I’ve come down to speed up the production of the DragonFire laser system because I think given that there’s two big conflicts on, one sea-based, one in Europe, this could have huge ramifications to have a weapon capable particularly of taking down drones,” Mr Shapps said at the Porton Down military research hub in Salisbury.
„And so what I want to do is speed up what would usually be a very lengthy development procurement process, possibly up to 10 years, based on my conversations this morning, to a much shorter timeframe to get it deployed, potentially on ships, incoming drones, and potentially on land.
„Again, incoming drones, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see how that could be helpful in Ukraine for example.”
Laser-directed energy weapons (LDEWs) use an intense beam of light to cut through their target.
The MoD hopes the DragonFire system will offer a low-cost alternative to missiles in shooting down attack drones and even mortars.
It has been developed by defence firms MBDA, Leonardo UK and QinetiQ and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
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The new procurement model, coming into effect next week, is aimed at speeding up the process of getting cutting-edge military developments out onto the field.
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„It’s designed to not wait until we have this at 99.9% perfection before it goes into the field, but get it to sort of 70% and then get it out there and then… develop it from there,” Mr Shapps said.
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Mr Shapps added: „In a more dangerous world, our approach to procurement is shifting with it. We need to be more urgent, more critical and more global.”
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