New UK laser weapon could be used against Russian drones in Ukraine, British defense secretary says

New UK laser weapon could be used against Russian drones in Ukraine, British defense secretary says
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DragonFire
The UK testing its new laser weapon, the DragonFire.

  • The UK’s new laser weapon could be used in Ukraine, the UK defense secretary said.
  • The laser, dubbed DragonFire, was originally scheduled for deployment in 2027.
  • Grant Shapps hopes to speed up the roll out so it could be put to use on Ukraine’s frontlines.

A new high-tech laser weapon developed by the UK that is capable of shooting down enemy drones and missiles could be sent to Ukraine.

The weapon, dubbed DragonFire, was originally slated for deployment by 2027, but Grant Shapps, the UK defense secretary, said he hoped to “speed up” production so it could be put to use on Ukraine’s front line.

Speaking to journalists on a visit to the Porton Down military research hub in Salisbury, England, Shapps said he would look to see if the pace can be increased even 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,” Shapps said.

The comments come after a trial of the laser successfully hit an aerial target in January.

Following the release of a video showing it in action in March, Ukrainian politician Oleksiy Goncharenko told Newsweek his country was “ready to test” DragonFire on the battlefield.

Anton Gerashchenko, a former adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said at the time in a post on X that Ukraine was “ready to take and test the operation of such a laser complex in combat conditions.”

And Shapps seemed to agree with the Ukrainian position.

“Let’s say that it didn’t have to be 100% perfect in order for Ukrainians perhaps to get their hands on it,” he said.

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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,” Shapps added.

“But 2027 is still the date as of this moment,” he continued.

DragonFire can hit a £1 coin from a kilometer away

The state-of-the-art weapon works by shooting a hexagonal array of 37 channels of 1.5kW laser beams, combined with mirrors to increase the power, at a target, The Telegraph reported.

Tim Kendall, a Defence Science and Technology Laboratory senior laser physicist who helped build DragonFire, told The Telegraph that this creates “a perfect laser beam” that can be fired through a telescopic lens.

The MoD said the weapon could hit an object the size of a small coin from a kilometer away.

The weapon itself is invisible as the wavelength of the light is so small it cannot be seen by human eyes.

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The weapon cost £100 million, or around $125 million, to develop, the MoD said.

It added that the weapon could provide a long-term, low-cost alternative to other air defenses, as “firing it for 10 seconds is the cost equivalent of using a regular heater for just an hour.”

The UK is by no means the only country to be developing laser weapons.

The US is already rumored to be deploying them in the Middle East to stop drone and missile attacks, though it’s unclear whether they’ve been used yet.

Russia has also said it has used laser weapons to take out Ukrainian drones, though their effectiveness has at times been hampered by the weather.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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