Leonardo has proven the tracking capability of its new laser beam director as part of the ongoing UK DragonFire Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) trials.

Taking place this month at the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down range, the trials involve firing the UK DragonFire demonstrator at targets over a number of ranges, demanding pinpoint accuracy from the beam director.

UK DragonFire is a project to develop new directed energy weapon technologies as part of UK defence’s broader goal to become a world-leader in the domain.

An onshore team of industry experts: MBDA, QinetiQ and Leonardo UK, are working in partnership with the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to deliver the programme.

Revolutionising the future battlefield

LDEW technology could revolutionise the future battlefield by allowing armed forces to operate without ammunition and reducing the risk of collateral damage.

Leonardo’s beam director technology is critical to the UK DragonFire system and presents a major engineering challenge: to deliver ultra-precise tracking/pointing accuracy and stability, at long range, in order for a laser to hit the target.

So far Leonardo has delivered two prototype UK DragonFire beam directors. The first was integrated and tested in earlier trials, where its pointing and tracking capability performed beyond expectations. The company has since refurbished the beam director and made some further modifications.  

The latest live trials are allowing Leonardo engineers to test the second beam director in realistic conditions, fully integrated with the laser source. Leonardo said the results so far have been impressive, with pin-point accuracy maintained at long-ranges. The next step will be to mature this technology and develop it into a battlefield-ready suite of capabilities.
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